I was given a remarkable gift. I cannot put it on the mantel, wear it, or hold it in my hand. The only place for this gift is in my heart, and it is tucked in there and can never be taken away. Actually, it was 2 gifts wrapped in one.
For years I (we) have bought new teddy bears and donated them to Hospice Care. I make it a personal mission to collect as many as I can. They are called Dori bears, named after the women who started the tradition. Every patient who enters, and any child that comes to visit, gets a bear. The bears must be at least 10 inches and have the tags on them. Build-A-Bear is my favorite and they know me by name in the store.
I knew the story of the Dori bears because my fabulous neighbor Susan is a Hospice nurse. I collect them and then donate them thru Susan. She takes them to Hospice and from there they go to the patients and families. We have often talked of her taking me to the hospice center to tour it, but to date, we just haven't coordinated a time.
Not so long ago, my dear friend was sitting at Hospice with her dad and she called me. Would I come be with her? Of course I would, so I grabbed the big bag of my current stock of bears, hopped in the car (got lost of course), but found my way to the Hospice Center. When I got out of the care, she commented, "I didn't know you were moving in." She has a wicked sense of humor.
I stopped at the desk and gave my donation to a nurse who was so gracious and acted like I had given them my last dollar. From there I took a deep breath and walked into the room with my friend. What did I see? Dad with his arms around a bear. I also saw a beautiful facility that amazed me, and the tenderness and kindness of the staff. What a fabulous place. What I thought would be a sterile environment is a place I hope to be, if ever I need it.
But that was the second gift. The first was when my friend called and asked me to come. She asked me to share in one of the most personal and emotional times of her life. I saw the love she had for her father and the unselfish wish she had for him t go on to be with her Mom and brother. She talked to him, stroked his arm, hugged him, and even sang a little. We talked, cried, and joked, or sat in silence. We cracked open a couple of beers and toasted to him.
The following day, her Dad went to dance with her Mom again. I was part of that emotional experience, and it brought a lot of memories of my own Dad passing ~ but I wouldn't have traded one second of the time or experience with her.
A few years ago, this same friend gave me a necklace. It says, "girlfriends are the family we choose for ourselves." I am so grateful she chose me to be her family.