A Gift to Her Mother - vnatexas.org

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Leslie Guditis’ connection with VNA Ann’s Haven goes all the way back to her childhood in Denton. She grew up with Millie Lockwood, the daughter of Ann Lockwood, for whom VNA Ann’s Haven is named.

Still, as a doctor of psychology herself, when it came time to look for a hospice provider for her mother Margie, she did her research, asking her fellow medical professionals to point her to the best hospice care available. The answer she got was unanimously VNA Ann’s Haven.

“When VNA Ann’s Haven came out the first time to do their intake process with mom, I knew it was the right decision,” Leslie said.

“I really wasn’t prepared for it,” Leslie said. “I can’t tell you how emotionally supported I was by the team from VNA Ann’s Haven. All the doubts and second-guessing I was going through – I really needed the support, and my mother and I both got it from the nurses and the CNA.”

Margie was under care from VNA Ann’s Haven for four weeks before she passed. During that time, Leslie devoted herself to caring for her mother, but still came to rely on the VNA Ann’s Haven care team repeatedly. “I knew I could call Pam [VNA Hospice Care RN] and she would always help,” Leslie said. “There were times she came when I called, even on days she wasn’t supposed to come. I trusted her implicitly. She always knew what was happening and was always reassuring. TVNA Ann’s Haven’s CNA Tricia was always upbeat and helpful, and Maryann [a VNA Ann’s Haven volunteer] was always willing to come and sit, to visit, to take the time to help.”

Caring for her mother during the final weeks of her life was more difficult than Leslie expected, but it was more rewarding than expected as well. “It’s the hardest thing and the most profoundly rewarding thing I’ve ever done,” Leslie said. “What sticks out most is the reassurance when I felt I couldn’t do another day. The VNA Ann’s Haven staff told me I was doing a great job, and they told me my mother knew what I was doing for her. No matter how old we get, we still want to please our parents. We want to make them proud.”

In the last few days of her mother’s life, Leslie relied on the help and knowledge of the VNA Ann’s Haven team more and more. The experience of the hospice team let them tell Leslie when time was short, which meal would end up being her mother’s last and even let them recognize the signs that this was Margie’s last day. Thanks to their attention and knowledge, Leslie was able to make sure everyone in her family was there at the end.

Though caring for her mother in the final weeks of her life was an exhausting task, Leslie was left deeply grateful to VNA Ann’s Haven for guiding her through it and providing the skillful care that helped her mother live her last days in peace and dignity, in the care of family. In gratitude, Leslie and her family made a generous donation to VNA Ann’s Haven, funds that will help VNA extend care to other families who need hospice service, but who lack the Medicare or private insurance coverage to pay.

“The whole thing was so amazing and profound,” Leslie said. “The way they came in from start to finish and made everything easier, emotionally and physically. Being there with my mother as she took her last breath – having those last four weeks – was such a profound gift. And it’s not only a gift you give your parent, it’s a gift you give to yourself.”