As a child, being a ‘grown-up’ looked quite enticing. Bedtime — your choice! Snacks whenever. Get money from a job and buy whatever you want. How great is that?
Now that I’ve been pretending to be an adult for decades, I know the truth: Reality. Responsibility. And, come Oct. 15, real estate taxes.
There’s another thing children are unaware of and not warned about: phone calls. The calls come a few per year in your 20s. Someone’s grandfather died. A cousin is in an accident. A friend’s brother is in prison.
Each year the calls come with more frequency. Death. Cancer. Bankruptcy. Legal trouble. Drugs.
For some of the troubles, there’s a protocol: attend a funeral, send a card, bring a hot dish. For others, there’s no handbook.
Three days before Christmas last year my phone rang. I didn’t recognize the Twin Cities number. It was my mother’s oncologist. After fighting Multiple Myeloma for two years, treatment was being stopped. This is the end. She needs to enter hospice. Where would I be placing her?
For once in my life, I was not blindsided by a question. “Quiet Oaks.” I’ll arrange for her to be at Quiet Oaks.
Hospice care is end-of-life care. Generally the patient is expected to live six months or less. After treatment is stopped because the patient is not going to survive, hospice provides pain-free care and support so the patient and family can focus on what is important to them.
Hospice is for those who cannot be cured but can be cared for. Hospice care can be provided in-home, at a nursing home or assisted living facility, in a hospital or in a specific hospice facility.
Nestled on a serene property south of St. Cloud, Quiet Oaks Hospice is a true gem in our community, a gem that started as a dream. Three families who had loved ones go through hospice wanted to establish a local, home-like facility for others.Their vision, which began in 2004, led to the opening of Quiet Oaks in 2008. Since opening, Quiet Oaks has served over 740 patients and their families.The spacious campus includes a gracious home with eight resident suites,several guest rooms, comfortable gathering spaces and numerous patient service areas including a beauty salon. My mom, who always prided herself on her appearance — hair done, clothes pressed — found this especially comforting. In fact, “compassion, care, and comfort” are the guiding forces at the home.
And it really is a ‘home,’ not a ‘facility.’ This was the dream of the founders and that dream is a living reality thanks to the professional staff and the hundreds of volunteers who keep the dream growing. Quiet Oaks is a 501(c)(3) organization and volunteers who give selflessly of their time and energy keep the time families spend there with their loved one a time of dignity and support.
Here’s a perfect example of how the entire process at Quiet Oaks works: If you walked into a building and you knew every one of the people living there was dying, what would you expect it to smell like? Medicine? Industrial cleaning products? Death? I crossed the threshold and smelled cookies baking.
That happened because donated groceries and dedicated volunteers assure meals and snacks are available for families so they can concentrate on spending time with their loved one. Over 13,000 meals have been provided for visitors since Quiet Oaks opened its doors.
Until you go through the process yourself, you have no idea how reassuring it is to find that not only does your mom have top-notch round-the-clock nursing care and personal attention, but you can be there every possible minute and not worry about leaving to eat. Out-state relatives can visit and there’s a room for them so they can stay overnight. You can throw a Christmas party in the living room and everyone in the family can be there. Your mom, who took great pride in her U.S. Navy service, is thrown a Salute to Veterans celebration.
We were even able to decorate her room with her own possessions and plants, taking down the numbered wildlife print and replacing it with artwork from her home, because as mom who never lost her spunk said, “I am not going to die looking at deer butts”.
There are all sorts of wonderful non-profit and not-for-profit groups in this area dedicated to children, sports, activities and learning. They serve community members whose lives are continuing.
But it is also vital that we have accommodations for the dying.
Quiet Oaks is just that organization. Although losing a parent is obviously not an optimal experience, I can say that everything about our journey at Quiet Oaks was exemplary. The medical staff was amazing, the volunteers were selfless, the facility was comforting, and while it is true that my mother died less than three weeks after her arrival, the time we spent there was actually part of a healing process and at the end of our time there we knew one thing: Peace.
This is the opinion of Karen Cyson, a member of the Times Writers Group. Published 6:00 p.m. CT Sept. 14, 2018