On November 24, 2022, I found myself dishing up turkey dinners at a food pantry, a traditional Thanksgiving custom in our family. It was shortly after noon when I received a call from the hospital, informing me that my husband, Bill, was being transferred from his hospital bed at Upper Valley Medical Center to the Ohio’s Hospice of Miami County Hospice House in Troy.
Within minutes I found myself entering a beautifully decorated facility and greeted by a receptionist who instructed me to be seated while my 87-year-old husband was admitted to a private room, bathed, and placed in a comfortable bed with a handmade Buckeye quilt enhancing the surroundings.
As he rested peacefully, I noticed the absence of IV poles and the constant buzzing of hospital equipment. Serenity enveloped the room. Attentive staff introduced themselves and assured me their focus was on Bill’s comfort as well as mine. No longer was I to continue my role as a caregiver, but I returned to my role as a loving wife. For the next 10 days, I spent each moment holding his hand, kissing his cheek, and reminding him how much I treasured our 32-year marriage.
Although he weathered myriad illnesses and surgeries in recent years, Bill was now in a serene environment where voices were seldom heard other than the amazing medical staff, social workers, chaplains, and nurses assigned to his care. As the days passed, I marveled at the comfort and loving care provided to Bill. Communication was key as I was given daily briefings and told what changes I could expect.
On Friday, Dec. 2, the hospice physician indicated my loving husband would leave this world within the next day or two. In the quiet of his room, I prayed, reminisced about our amazing marriage, our children, and even hummed a favorite hymn “Be Not Afraid.” As the hours passed, I whispered in his ear, “When you transition into Heaven, send me a sign whether it’s a favorite song or those flamingos you detested in peoples’ yards.”
At 11:40 pm, I glanced at an overhead television screen where six flamingos were photographed in a swimming pool. Twenty minutes later, Bill took his last breath.
Thank you, Ohio’s Hospice, for providing us with help when needed. I only wish I had called you sooner.
Editor’s Note: Sharon Semanie is a Piqua native who majored in journalism at Ohio University and pursued a newspaper and community relations career. She returned to Ohio in 2000 along with her husband, Bill, and daughter, Julie. She is a freelance writer, member of the Piqua Rotary Club, and volunteer at The Bethany Center soup kitchen. She enjoys spending time with her granddaughters.