Every Life Has a Story

By Jodi McKinney, Director of Business Development, Celtic Healthcare

Every life has a story, and as a hospice nurse, Cindy Adams gets to help patients write their final chapter.  And while helping others, she is also creating her own beautiful life story.

Cindy didn’t set out to be a nurse.  She didn’t even know it was what she wanted to do.  Up until age 30, Cindy was a waitress, a part-time bookkeeper, and a stay-at-home mom to her three children. Then the dreaded day came when her beloved father became ill and was put on hospice care.  Cindy had never experienced dealing with the death of a loved one.  Her dad’s passing shattered her world.  Little did she know her life’s purpose was about to be determined.

“When Dad took his last breath, my family and I were all holding him,” Cindy reflectively recalls.  “I was scared.  My life changed in that heartbeat.  I didn’t know how to accept it.  I was so thankful for the tenderness and compassion of the hospice team that not only cared for Dad, but helped my family and me through it all too.”

Now Cindy, a Hospice Nurse for Celtic Healthcare in Fayette County, is on the other side of the bed.  Now she is the one comforting the daughter, the son, the husband or the wife when their loved one’s time comes to write their final chapter.

“Sometimes I feel selfish actually,” Cindy admits.  “I receive so much more than I give.  What I am given through my experience is not material.  Sure I get paid, but I also receive something of the heart that nobody can take from me, and it is something I can also use and share with others.  What I learn from every patient and every family makes me stronger and better at what I do.”

Each morning when she wakes up, Cindy tells herself that yesterday is done, tomorrow isn’t here yet, but what she does today matters.  “I want to make a difference in someone’s life,” says Cindy.  “Every day, I ask the Lord to guide the words on my lips, be my ears, guide my heart, and let me know what I can do to make a difference in someone’s life.”

And that she does!  Spending final days and hours with patients and their families allows Cindy to help them deal with the “important stuff” like she did with patient Mary and her daughter recently.

After the physical needs of dealing with pain and comfort were taken care of, talks with Mary centered on going home, the wonderful life she lived, and being ready to join her husband.  And when Mary’s daughter finally reached the point of being ready to let go of Mom, Cindy knew the last two weeks while Mary laid in a coma in bed where meant for Mary’s daughter.  They talked about how tired Mom was, how short our time on earth is, and how Mom’s spirit would always be with her.  Sometimes they sat and talked into the wee hours of the morning.

As Cindy went through the respectful ritual of preparing Mary’s body after death, she contemplated, as she does with each patient, “I wonder if she’s happy now?  What is it like on the other side?  Did I make it any easier… any better?”

“Each death is a privilege and an honor to be a part of,” says Cindy as she gives her final gift of dignity to Mary and the gift of peace to Mary’s daughter through this humbling and heartfelt ritual.

Every life has a story; and as Abraham Lincoln once said, “In the end, it’s not the years in your life that count.  It’s the life in your years.”

Celtic Healthcare would like to thank Cindy Adams and all of our Celtic homecare and hospice nurses, as well as nurses everywhere, for the extraordinary service they provide in the stories of people’s lives.

For more information visit www.celtichealthcare.com.

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