A Farewell to Lynn

Last year sometime, I let go of my 20-plus years as a hospice volunteer. That role had always been extraordinarily rewarding and joyous (yes, that is the right word), but I felt like it was time to experience something new.

So last fall I began a new volunteer gig, through a program called Project Linkage, that had me visiting weekly with an elderly gentleman named Lynn. He wasn’t particularly ill – he just longed for companionship and good conversation.

Over the months we became good friends, almost like brothers. Our conversations always included laughter, discussions about life, and sharing our weekly activities.

A few months ago, Lynn’s health started to fail, and I “just happened” to be there when he had a particularly scary incident. He credited me with having saved his life, but I think he was simply willing to accept my concern and advice as a trusted friend.

That experience landed him in the hospital for the first of four visits to treat what turned out to be congestive heart failure. When I called him at home on Monday, he said he thought he had “taken a turn for the worse” and was now on hospice care.

So this week, instead of our regular Wednesday visits, I was with him every day, first in his home and then in a care center. And early this afternoon I was blessed and honored to be there, with his daughter and granddaughter, when he moved on to the next dimension.

In all those years as a hospice volunteer, I was only present twice when a patient made his or her transition. But having worked in that field for so long allowed me to offer a perspective to his family that seemed to be helpful and comforting to them, and Lynn gave me the gift of being there at his moment of departure.

All things are working together for good. God bless you on your new journey, my friend.

2 Responses to “A Farewell to Lynn”

  1. Sharon King says:

    Wow Jack, I didn’t know this about you and you may not have known this about me, but I have worked as a caregiver w/hospice for 20 years myself. I get what you are saying in every word here. It’s a delicate place to be with your love,…so tender, and uncertain,… and so much like a vacuum when their body’s gone… where did they go? They were just here. Wow, they really did go didn’t they. Very surreal isn’t it?! We all grow together. We all are parts of this perfect piece. I’ve heard folks like you and I Jack, caregivers with the dying, that we are special people, … I don’t know if special is the word. I’m fascinated with the whole process of this transition. Very magical, as I’m sure you know.,.. and if people like us are anything, we are very curious,..to the point of being on the front lines,…hoping to gain a glimpse of Heaven. Thank you for the beautiful memory of your friend. SK

  2. Ruth Lane says:

    Jack, I am just discovering your writings, thanks to our mutual friend, Denise, when I met while in Paris a few weeks ago. She is a wonderful (as in, full-of-wonder) person, as you also seem to be. I was a hospital chaplain for 15 years, then, when my husband was in need of full-time care for several years, my Christian belief system was not a comfort. I found more in Bhuddist counsels. At this time, I have yet to commit myself to any core set of beliefs, except for trying to have compassion for all of life. You write that at age 68 you have found what you want to be. May I ask what that is ? A year of continued wonder to you—Ruth

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    About Jack Armstrong

    Welcome to my blog. I’m glad you’re here, and I’m excited about being able to visit with you in this way.

    The musings about life and spirituality that I’ll be sharing with you will be from the perspective of a 71-year-old guy who spent most of his life trying to figure out what he wanted to be when he grew up ― and finally got it.

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    Jack Armstrong

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