Tis the season of thanks and giving

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The holiday season is unarguably altered for my family but in a way that calls us to be thankful. My grandfather, who hung the moon in my and my sister&8217;s eyes, passed away in September 2006, after a year-long battle with cancer.

My grandfather and grandmother had been married for 59 years when he passed away. Once we realized that he would not beat the cancer this time &8212; he had beat prostrate cancer five years before &8212; we began devising a plan to care for him. I even moved back to Huntsville after college to be there with he and my grandmother. Throughout the year we watched him slip away and after trying out a short stay in a local nursing home we decided that for him, and us, there was simply no place like home.

This is why we give thanks during the holidays for the availability of hospice care and visitors who dropped by. Even though we spend the holidays without my grandfather now we know that we were blessed.

Everyday can present tremendous struggles for families caring for loved-ones. Whether the difficulty comes in helping them to step outside for some fresh air, to eat a healthy lunch or even to go to the bathroom, families often bare such a huge burden.

My grandfather often broke the stress by randomly singing, &8220;You are my sunshine&8221; when I came into his room. It makes me tear up even now. Other than his sweet song, the greatest relief came when someone else could come and sit with him or when the nurse came to give him a bath and change him.

Families need the support hospice organizations provide and hospice organizations need the support of the community, to do what they do. There are numerous hospice organizations across Shelby County that use volunteers to run errands or bring food to families. More than anything, this holiday season, it&8217;s important to volunteer your time to help others enjoy the final moments they have with loved ones. One day someone is likely to do the same for you.

The following are all hospice organizations that seek out non-medical volunteers: Community Hospices of America 970-3888; New Beacon Hospice 939-8799; Kindred Care Hospice 228-0600; Alacare Hospice 979-2659; Amedisys Hospice Care 868-9221; Comfort Care Hospice 663-6887; and The SouthernCare Hospice 854-7252 or 425-0065