Sunflowers were Helenâ€™s favorite.
â€śTheyâ€™re so happy,â€ť she said. â€śTheyâ€™re really a happy flower.â€ť
Ms. Helen D. Jones grew sunflowers at her home in Rutherford County. On a summerâ€™s day she could sit in her sunroom, look out at her garden and enjoy what she created.
Helen spent a lot of time there in her sunroom, a screened-in back porch where she could read and listen to the birds sing their song. She liked to sleep there, too, with crickets lulling her to sleep and a breeze blowing ever so gently.
As a gardener, Helen was well-acquainted with the cycle of life. Flowers grow and bloom for a time. And, with the change of seasons, they fade.
No one is ever really prepared to hear the news that an illness is terminal, but Helen knew even before the doctor told her. She knew time was short, and she was determined to enjoy the months she had left on this earth.
Helen turned to Alive Hospice during that change of seasons, what she called her â€śtime of transition.â€ť
When a personâ€™s life-expectancy is likely six months or less, hospice caregivers work to provide the best quality of life possible. Itâ€™s comfort care, and it takes many forms: not only alleviating pain and other unpleasant symptoms, but also offering emotional and spiritual support for patients and their families.
The Alive Hospice team includes a physician, nurses, hospice aides (CNTs), social workers, chaplains and volunteers. Alive Hospice has several home-care teams that provide care for patients in 12 Middle Tennessee counties.
Caregivers with Alive Hospiceâ€™s Murfreesboro Team visited Helen in her home, where she was surrounded by the people and things she loved: her children, grandchildren, books, her sunflowers and her dog, Ginger. That was important to Helen â€“ and to Ginger, who didnâ€™t leave her side.
Hospice is a word that many people donâ€™t like to hear, but Helenâ€™s experience showed her that it was something to be embraced â€“ not feared.
â€śTheyâ€™re giving me the comfort to know Iâ€™m not alone,â€ť Helen said of her Alive Hospice caregivers. â€śI have people who really care about me. Thatâ€™s very important when youâ€™re dying.â€ť
Itâ€™s what we all deserve during that last season of life, and itâ€™s what we all can have. What Helen had.
For more information about hospice care, call 615-327-1085 or visit www.alivehospice.org.
This profile was originally published in Alive Hospice’s Fall 2011 Connection newsletter.