A Message From The President
Jim Huller (My Grandfather) And What He Brought To The Dance Of My Life
There is a song sung by Wynona Judd called
“You Were Loved”. The chorus plays in my head: “when you were touched by someone, held by someone, meant something to someone” you know you were loved.
I remember hearing the song for the first time when my grandfather was in the hospital suffering from congestive heart failure. At the time we, as a family, did not know such a disease was “fatal”.
We seem to live in a world where we only consider the BIG C as the thing that “kills us”. While his heart had always been physically weak he was such a strong, strong man. And the spirit of his heart was so powerful we just always assumed the combination would keep him around for a very long time.
When he became too weak to stay at home, our family had only one option and that was a Nursing Home. (hospice did not exist or if it did no one within the medical community shared with us its benefits). While we all tried to make him comfortable and he even made the best of it, it was the last place that a man of such dignity should have spent his last weeks. Six weeks to be exact, and then, as all terminal illness does, it did take his life. While it has been 12 years, it just seems like yesterday that I laid my head beside his on a pillow and shared a loving conversation.
My grandfather was a man of few words which made our last hours together even more significant. I always knew how much he loved me but being able to speak the words and share the feelings just made everything so real and honest. Knowing we left nothing unsaid meant I had no regrets and this gave me the strength to help my family deal with their loss. The two people I would typically turn to in such an hour of pain, my father and grandmother, needed me. The timing of his death meant I was the one who had to tell his wife and son he was gone. As much as I was suffering, their pain of losing a husband and father respectfully meant I had to draw strength from him. It was the only way I could do what he needed me to do.
I draw strength from him every day; the way he lived his life absent of judgment, the way he did not see color, religion or station in life and his generous and welcoming nature. One of our favorite memories is of him greeting the garbage collectors, on a hot summer day, cold beer in hand for each of them. “Honey” he would say, “anyone who works that hard deserves a cold beer on a hot day”.
His favorite question was “what can I get you?” He prided himself in his hospitality.
Not unusual that the term “hospice” (from the same linguistic root as “hospitality”) can be traced back to medieval times when it referred to a place of shelter and rest for weary or ill travelers on a long journey. I believe if he were here today, the idea of creating the Home Hospice Association as a way to share that need to provide shelter, love, support and dignity to those who are terminally ill would have been exactly where he would wish me to be. This makes me want to work even harder, to help realize the dream of the Home Hospice Association and it is this same spirit of nonjudgmental, unconditional love and support for any man, woman and child facing the distress of a terminal illness that was the meaning of his life and mine.
I know if he could have painted a picture of my life’s work, he would have painted the picture of hospice and not in the shape of a building but that of a loving heart.
Tracey Robertson - President