The mother of what we now know as Ohio’s Hospice LifeCare was Fran Loess.
Back in the mid-1970s, Fran invited some local movers and shakers to sit at her kitchen table to talk about bringing hospice care to our communities. In 1982, when we served our first patients, Fran was in the very first volunteer training class. She continued as a hospice volunteer until early 2005, when she became a hospice patient. As Fran was facing the last months of her life, she stated many times that she wanted her legacy to be a program that allows patients to record their stories to leave behind for family and friends. We designed the Fran Loess Life Legacy Project while Fran was still here to have input, and it has been available to our patients ever since. At the time of her death, Fran’s family made a generous donation to keep the program running for many years to come.
Today, the Loess Life Legacy Project continues to flourish and provide interested patients and families a wonderful outlet for sharing and preserving their stories. We recently completed two video projects—one that included a long-time dance instructor dancing with his wife, and another that included a gentleman singing his three favorite songs. The gentleman sang energetically in the afternoon as the volunteer assisted in recording his legacy video, but he experienced a dramatic change that evening and was soon gone. His daughter said it was like he had accomplished his last big goal.
Over the years, patients have recorded many powerful videos. As Christmas approached, “Harold” told his hospice social worker that he wanted to make a video as a gift to his children. On his video, he recorded his memories of his courtship of their mother. He also shared stories of what he remembered of each of his five sons’ births and explained how he and his wife blended their parenting styles. He then sang his favorite Christmas carols to them and read his favorite scriptures. When he felt he was done, he asked that we make 17 copies of the DVD. He wanted one for each of his sons and their 12 children. We made the copies of the video and put them in a large gift bag with a big bow and tag that said, “To My Family, From Harold.” As it happened, Harold died on Christmas morning. When his family arrived at the nursing home where Harold had been living, they found this extraordinary gift waiting for them.
This project is not something that every individual in hospice care wishes to undertake. But for those who do, and for their families, it can be a truly wonderful gift.
To find out how you can help support the Fran Loess Life Legacy Project, contact Rebecca McCurdy at 330.264.4899.
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