Hospice of Southern Illinois Homerun
“All Good Things Come With Fredbird”
Fredbird arrived at Patsy’s home on Friday, June 13, 2014. Although Friday the 13th is usually recognized as a superstitious day, this day definitely wasn’t an unlucky one and will be considered “super” for this patient and family who will always cherish the memories Fredbird made in their home that day.
Hospice of Southern Illinois’ patient, Patsy, has been less responsive in the recent weeks. There is a joy of summer that still excites her, St. Louis Cardinals Baseball, as many who live in the metro-east can relate. Patsy’s caregivers and hospice interdisciplinary team learned about her love of Cardinals Baseball during their visits to her home and conversations with her children, noticing it was one thing that would bring her joy. In an attempt to bring some fun-loving excitement which the family hasn’t seen lately due to caregiver stress, Patsy’s terminal illness, and the inconsistencies of day-to-day living, the employees at Hospice of Southern Illinois reached out to Fredbird, who without words, said it all!
He was welcomed with a yard sign created by Patsy’s granddaughter and friend and a warm, yet quiet family in the living room, for Patsy did not know who was visiting that day. Patsy’s daughter had told her that she was getting a special surprise visitor that day, but she wouldn’t say who. As Patsy patiently waited for this “super” surprise guest, everyone’s excitement was building because we all knew what was about to happen.
Fredbird entered the kitchen where Patsy was waiting. Her face was in total shock. She had no idea what to say or how to respond to this 6’ 3”, red bird character we all know and love! He instantly was able to make her smile with a, “Whoot woo,” and boy did she blush. It was so beautiful to see her eyes light up and joy in her face. He proceeded to serenade her, dance with her, and shake his tail feather at her. Fredbird decided there was not enough laughing and decided to go through the pantry, gulp some milk, and share a round of high fives with Patsy, the family, and the Hospice of Southern Illinois team.
The volume in the house then exploded. All stresses and illness at that moment were nonexistent. Everyone was laughing, taking photos, and shaking a tail feather. “I have never seen anyone turn a room so fast. It was an epic moment to capture and moment to experience,” explained Christine Litteken, Hospice of Southern Illinois’ Print and Social Media Coordinator, who was taking photos. Fredbird turned his attention back to his guest of honor to give her one final kiss before he left. Of course he couldn’t leave without a bang. In a cabinet he found a blow horn which a family member blew his way. It knocked him off his feet as he stumbled down the hall and out the door leaving us all with a smile and memory to cherish in our hearts forever. As a Hospice of Southern Illinois’ employee, Kim Oplet mentioned when she saw the photos, “All good things come with Fredbird.”
A few days later some Hospice of Southern Illinois’ employees went back to deliver photos from the day to Patsy and her family. The same joy was reignited from Friday as she was sitting in her room waiting for the game to start. We knew it was a hospice homerun! With Fredbird’s help, we were able to eliminate all stress, pain, and worries in that moment; give the family a memorable day together; give our patient, Patsy, the experience of a lifetime that few get to have.
That night the Cardinals played the Nationals with a 1-0 victory. We all know that Patsy’s love for the Cardinals, especially Fredbird, Yadier Molina and Matt Holiday, helped play a part in the win that night. A special thank you goes to the St. Louis Cardinals, Fredbird, and his team for the above-and-beyond effort that impacted someone’s life at such an important and critical time. That day he was a vision of our mission, to enhance the quality of life for individuals and their loved ones touched by a terminal illness. It meant more to them and us than he will ever know.