Editor’s Note: Doug Woodworth lived his life in the service of others. A beloved teacher, coach and mentor, he passed away at the Kaplan Family Hospice House on December 13, 2015. Doug’s wife, Maureen, recalls Doug’s vibrant life and the challenges she faced when they received his terminal diagnosis.
My husband, Doug Woodworth, was a loving person, father and community icon who embraced every moment and lived each day to the fullest. We made our home and raised our children in Ipswich, where Doug coached a variety of sports, including basketball, softball, and golf at Ipswich High School for over 35 years.
In October of 2015, Doug was diagnosed with a rare brain disease and given three months to live. We were told that this disease could progress very quickly and to prepare for that inevitability. I was scared and could not even comprehend what was going to happen in the next few months. Doug, however, accepted the diagnosis saying, “I’ve lived the most amazing life, have had the best and most beautiful wife and two beautiful children. I’ve had more than I could ever ask for. It was just way too short.”
Looking back I don’t know how we made it through those months. The support we received from friends and family was amazing and we could feel the love from our entire community. This provided me and my family with the strength we needed to carry on. We knew we were not alone. A meal chain was set in place to deliver meals each day and a celebration of life was organized. From the day after Doug’s diagnosis, our house was open to any and all who knew and loved him. He wanted to visit with all his friends and family – and there were a lot – including coaches and former students and athletes, to name a few.
I soon realized that we could not keep this pace of 10 to 20 people visiting throughout the day. It was exhausting. Still, Doug wanted to see everyone, so our daughter, Jena, developed a schedule to book visits. This helped us manage the process and allow for some alone/family time as well.
As predicted, Doug’s health declined rapidly and I knew we needed experts to help us both through his final months. That’s when I called Care Dimensions. They immediately helped set my mind at ease. The doctor, nurse, and social worker partnered with me to manage Doug’s needs at home. But the days and weeks that followed were physically and emotionally taxing. After a very challenging weekend and several weeks of no sleep, our nurse suggested that Doug might benefit from a respite stay at the Kaplan Family Hospice House. I didn’t quite know what that meant, but did realize it was time for me to try to get some rest and let the professionals take care of Doug for a few days.
Doug’s condition worsened and when his respite stay ended, it was determined that his symptoms where such that he needed to stay at the Kaplan House. Just a few short weeks later that is where he passed away.
We had an amazing experience at the Kaplan House. It was the perfect place for Doug to be: comfortable, loving and supportive, with the added layer of professional expertise. And, he could still have his visitors and family by his side. I remember how the Kaplan House staff made us feel so special. They were always there for us and communicated extremely well with me.
Care Dimensions allowed me to provide a wonderful experience for Doug in his journey through end of life. They allowed me and my family to enjoy every moment with Doug in a home-like setting and if there was anything we needed they were right there for us. In recognition of their expert and compassionate care, and to commemorate Doug’s memory, I’ve formed Woody’s Wonders Team to support the Walk for Hospice. I know that the funds raised from teams like Woody’s Wonders will help other patients and families at one of the most difficult times of their lives. I also formed this team to honor Doug’s memory. He was ‘one in a million’ and he lives on in the hearts and minds of all who knew him.