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FROM THE EDITOR'S PEN  /Henry and Grace /  Editorial List

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Henry and Grace

As a couple, Henry and Grace taught me as much as anyone ever has about living life to the fullest, not in words but by example.  They were my parents best friends for 40 years and the four of them spent much of their times together laughing.  As a teenager, I remember times where I was living through an early role reversal, with me as the adult and the four of them as a pack of fun-loving kids out too late. Henry and Grace worked together for the entire time they were married in the professional recruitment agency they started in the early sixties. Even though I worked for them right after college, I never saw them argue. They were truly a Yin and Yang couple. Grace would be out front, fearlessly contacting anyone necessary for their business to succeed; scolding bank presidents as if they were her kids and out lawyering the lawyers. Henry would be sitting in the back office, tallying up the numbers while he smoked his pipe, keeping the engine running smoothly. Iím sure they thought these were times which would never end. I know I did.

About five years ago, Henry developed Parkinsonís disease, a diagnosis they handled in their usual manner, learning what they could to battle the disease while attempting to keep a smile on their faces as often as possible. This past December, Henry was also diagnosed with lung cancer which started a steady decline ending with his passing this past weekend. Over the past few months, Graceís demeanor started to exhibit a lifetime of pain as they realized that this was one battle in which they would not be victorious. Although they did not have any children, they had a great group of personal friends who, while respecting their desire for privacy, worked together to make sure they were supported in any way possible.

Grace was adamant that Henry stay at home and would not even consider any alternative. When time came for hospice care to be considered, they were moved by the caring and capable help that they found at their service. Henry was touched when talked to, nurses were professional and respectful and everyone was responsive when called. I was called to the house at 4 a.m. this past Sunday, with expectations of Henryís passing within the hour, but as usual, he was sticking to his own schedule and passed twelve hours later.  Even after he passed, we received calls and emails from the hospice staff offering condolences and asking if there were anything else they could do to help.

There are so many misconceptions about what Hospice is and what it can offer that I am afraid too many family caregivers and even physicians do not consider the option for their loved ones and clients when it is called for. I can tell you firsthand, just how much a shame that would be.

Thanks to the good folks at Vitas Hospice Care in Miami for their kindness and professionalism.

Gary Barg

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