Our grandfather, William “Bill” McPherson, Jr., fought a lot of battles in his life. A Navy combat veteran who served in World War II, he was a third generation Beverly firefighter, and retired as deputy fire chief.
Grampy also battled cardiac issues throughout his adult life. In his late 80s, chest pain and cardiac problems sent him to the hospital every four to six months. He would be in the hospital for a few days, and they would change his medications and send him home. A few months later, he’d be back in the hospital for a cardiac issue, and the same process played out, which disrupted his life all over again. It was hard to see him in that situation. The hospital stays took their toll on Grampy and the family.
Choosing hospice, but not giving up
Our grandparents spoke with Grampy’s cardiologist about how much the hospital stays were taking a toll on everyone, especially our grandmother, who hated seeing her husband in the hospital in pain. His cardiologist recommended we speak with Care Dimensions. After Grampy was discharged from his final hospital stay, Care Dimensions came to the house to evaluate Grampy and speak with our grandparents. They discussed how they wanted to “keep Grampy going,” and manage his care with emphasis on comfort and living his life as normally as possible.
When Grampy opted for hospice care, it seemed to our family that this man who never backed down from a challenge was giving up. Little did we realize that hospice care would enhance his life. Having regular visits from his nurse, Wanda, and his social worker, Angela, plus access to 24/7 support via the Care Dimensions nursing support line, meant that he didn’t have to go the hospital every time he was in pain or distress. Hospice allowed Grampy to remain as independent as possible and live the life he wanted for another two years.
Grampy enjoyed going to the American Legion club on Saturdays for the raffles. On Tuesday mornings, he would go out with “The Breakfast Club” to socialize with longtime friends. He also loved tending to his tomatoes, basil, and flowers in the garden, and spending time with his grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Our family has a duty to serve that was instilled in us by Grampy. That need to help others allowed us to help him when he needed it most. Sarah is a nurse in a family of nurses, but any medical professional will tell you it’s different when your own loved one needs care. Having Care Dimensions staff at his home to manage Grampy’s care while keeping us in the loop and providing step-by-step instructions made us feel like we were a part of the care management team. It also allowed us to reduce our caregiving responsibilities and enjoy our time with our grandfather.
Kaplan Family Hospice House
Grampy was in and out of the Kaplan Family Hospice House three times before his final stay. We could not have been more impressed by the staff and volunteers there. Even those not directly involved in his care went out of their way to make sure every member of our family was comfortable and understood what was happening. Having people there who we knew and recognized – including his nurse, Richard, and aides Ivan and Toni – was such a comfort for all of us.
Grampy led a very social life and was always active in his community. The Kaplan House allowed for visitors any time day and night, which was amazing, but what was even better is that people wanted to visit. The Kaplan House is so welcoming. Grampy was able to visit with friends and loved ones up until the end, and having that was such a comfort and way for him to continue living his life as he knew it. Other services such as chaplain visits, last rites, singing groups, and pet therapy were all comforts to have during a hard time for our family.
During his fourth stay at the Kaplan Family Hospice House, Grampy died on Thanksgiving Day 2016, at the age of 92. The staff there must have wished they were home to celebrate the holiday with their own families, but you would never have guessed it based on the focus and care we saw that day. We had staff and volunteers with us all day to make sure our grandfather and everyone in our family had everything we needed and that we understood what was going on. Grampy’s day nurse even stayed later to sit with us and help us through that day. We are so amazed with our experience at the Kaplan House. They made it easy for Grampy to pass, but also made it easier for us to be with him at the end.
Bill’s Brigade: our Walk for Hospice team
Our siblings and cousins joined us to form Bill’s Brigade (an homage to our grandfather’s firefighting career and love of family) last year at the Walk for Hospice and we hope to grow the team’s fundraising each year. The team includes Grampy’s growing number of great-grandchildren, including baby William, who never met him but shares his name. We walk to support the people and organization that helped us every day for two years, including some of our family’s most difficult days.
People hear the word “hospice” and assume that means the very end of life or giving up, but Care Dimensions truly enhanced Grampy’s life and allowed him to live independently doing the things he loved until the day he died. He was never a burden and remained the grandfather we all knew and loved. We will be forever grateful and hope you will join us in supporting Care Dimensions and the Walk for Hospice.