Riding the Wave
Erika Werner was deeply familiar with the care and compassion given to others in a health care setting. She was a registered nurse for more than fifty years, as well as, the founder of Rainbow Residence, a seniors’ residence. It was fitting , that she embraced the idea of coming to McNally House Hospice when she needed end-of-life care. Erika and her whole family “ploughed into positivity” when she was admitted.
After a few days, Erika’s family discovered the essence of McNally House, repeating the question, “How could this incredible place exist?” Not only was the facility beautiful, but, the care and support which the staff and volunteers exhibited was life-giving. Erika felt completely safe — physically, emotionally, and socially. She and her family “rode the wave” of end of life with much reduced anxiety and stress.
Erika was eclectic in her views and often expressed that she felt “different”. On one hand, this fueled her deep compassion for anyone who was ostracized or marginalized. On the other hand, it was hard for her to feel totally relaxed or vulnerable with others. Tracy and David, two of her children, noted the remarkable impact McNally House had on Erika’s demeanor. The acceptance of Erika by staff and volunteers permitted her humour and playfulness to blossom, “the best of Mom came out”.
Tracy and David reminisced about the care shown by different staff members during her stay. When Erika reverted back to speaking German in her final days, a nurse learned the words that Erika was saying.. Time was spent with Erika as she shared scrapbooks about her life. Arthur, Psycho-Spiritual Clinician, helped Erika to deal with life long questions and anxieties. Nurses and PSWs sat with Erika through the night so she would not feel alone. Most poignantly, during Erika’s final hours, Tracy was tucked in with her Mom, so Erika could feel her daughter’s presence.
Tracy and David were also touched by the consideration shown to their step-father Ken Roach, Erika’s husband. The Staff members on shift even stopped by to share cake with Ken and Erika to help celebrate their 34th wedding anniversary.
At the end of life, when everyone is so vulnerable, so fragile, having McNally House Hospice care comes as an incredible gift for all involved. Tracy, David and Theo, three of Erika’s children, expressed this sentiment strongly. In her final days, Erika could be heard singing in German, her spirit free, uninhibited. It was a lovely way in which to have ridden the wave in the final lap of her life’s journey.