Halloween Joy for Judy

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Judy Gaaskjolen was admitted to the Our Lady of Peace Residential Hospice two days prior to the day of her passing on October 23, 2020. At first, her only child, Dana Guth, was apprehensive about taking her there at the recommendation of a hospital social worker because of the promise of free care. In Dana’s mind “free” meant the care would not be good, but she says the reality is, “The move to Our Lady of Peace took me from darkness to a very bright place.”

After being diagnosed with a brain tumor, Judy spent four weeks in the hospital. The area of her brain that developed the tumor put her at high risk for paralysis to occur during surgery, so her family agreed not to do it. “Life in the hospital was horrible for my mom,” says Dana. “The tumor caused psychosis and fear, so she thought she was being tortured by the pokes and prods of her care. I wanted so desperately to make things better for her and make her final days calm and comfortable, but I was the only person who would accept that hospice was the best move. I knew she needed to be at peace, and so did I.” Finally, Judy’s physician agreed that she should go into hospice.

After reviewing long lists of hospice options and costs, Judy’s hospital social worker recommended Our Lady of Peace. Driven to calm Dana’s apprehension over her association of free with bad care, the social worker said, “If I were in your position, this is where I would take my mom.” Riddled with stress and her own need for support after months of caring for her mom, Dana chose to believe her and make the move, in spite of the long drive it would be from her home. She says, “I didn’t want her to go out of this world in fear.”

OLP proved to be a welcomed change from the sterile hospital for both mother and daughter. Tears welled up in Dana’s eyes when she described the calm she felt when she walked in her mom’s room for the first time. “My mom was calm and she was drinking apple juice. She was dressed in a pretty nightgown and covered with a beautiful hand-made quilt. She was my mom again, and I had a very warm feeling.”

October was a special month for Judy because Halloween was her favorite holiday. She decorated her home every year and loved doing it. It’s something that Dana happened to mention, as OLP staff members asked her questions in an effort to get to know her mom. “It

was so nice to have someone else handling things.”

The next day, Dana walked into a room filled with Halloween streamers and cut outs of pumpkins and ghosts. On the table beside her mom was a pumpkin container filled with yellow tulips. “I couldn’t believe what they had done for my mom. Something they heard me mention in passing transformed into an indescribable gift.” The next morning, Judy passed away, and OLP gave Dana the pumpkin and flowers saying, “Your mom wanted you to have this.”

Time passed, and Dana found a beautiful wooden cross at the bottom of the pumpkin, placed

to hold up the flowers. “There were so many miracles in my darkest hours,” she says. “And this was one of them. My experience at OLP was life-changing, and to this day, I’m still in contact with the people there. It’s a very special place, and I feel blessed to have found them.”

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