The people who contribute their time as 11th Hour volunteers are a special breed. Our 11th Hour program was started 15 years ago when a need was recognized by many of our clinicians. The care teams who work closely with our nursing home patients noticed that many of those patients either had no family members left or the family was too far away to be close. As the patients neared death, they were often alone. The 11th Hour program was designed to provide on-going companionship volunteers when the patient was nearing death, in hopes of preventing any patients from dying alone.
Angela Crawford leads a busy life, working as both an assistant professor at Thomas More College and as the chief marketing officer at a market research firm. She volunteers for Bluegrass Hospice Care, mostly with 11th Hour requests based on her busy schedules. She wrote a poem following a particularly touching evening with a patient recently. The poem was submitted to the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization, where it won second place in the poetry division.
Here are Angela’s thoughts on her very personal piece of writing:
“I wrote this poem after spending an evening with a patient who had passed away. With my schedule, I typically volunteer mostly for 11th Hour and it is an honor to spend time with people during what may be their final moments. I believe that we are all here for a purpose and part of that is to love other people. When I sit with patients I feel a special connection to them as they transition from this life and I know that I would want someone to be there to accompany me on this journey. Volunteering also reinforces my belief that we should value our relationships with people above all else, and that our time is limited here on this earth. Part of life is discovering and living out our purpose each day, because one day our story here on earth will come to an end.”
Thank You For Holding My Hand
by Angela Crawford
As I hold your hand I feel the joy that your mother must have felt when she clasped your tiny hand in hers for the very first time.
The pride your father felt when he used his strong hands to place you on his shoulders, so you could get a better view… and the world would see you.
The hands you used to feel the grip of the steering wheel in your first car, and the ones that finally got the nerve to hold your sweetheart's hand for the first time… and then to dance at your wedding.
The hands that worked hard to make a living and to care for your family, the ones friends and family knew would always be there to lift them up when they would fall.
The hands that cuddled children, cared for pets and held your sweetheart at the end.
So today, it is time for your hands to rest, but for me your precious hands are a reminder. To never miss a day holding the hands of those I love, and to use my hands while I still can, to do more good in the world.
Thank you for telling me your story through your hands, and thank you for holding mine.