Bob Sanders with Nikki Bertoia, Finance & Administration Coordinator at St. Joseph’s Hospice

Linda’s Letter: How a note after death inspired Bob Sanders to persevere

Before Bob Sanders’ wife, Linda, passed away at St. Joseph’s Hospice, she wrote him a note encouraging him to persevere once she was gone.

Linda was only in our residence home for three days before passing away.  However, for Bob, this was the beginning of a beautiful friendship with St. Joseph’s Hospice.

Bob and Linda Sanders were married for 51 years before she was diagnosed with lung cancer. The doctors said she had a few good years left, so the couple created a bucket list and set out to fill those years with happy memories.

Bob is a diving instructor and one of his dreams was to dive in the Bay of Fundy in Nova Scotia—and he did. But when they came home, Linda’s condition began to decline.

Linda insisted that she did not want to die at home, so when the time came for her to go to St. Joseph’s Hospice, it was a relief to both her and Bob.  “As soon as I got here, the experience was mind-blowing,” Bob said.  “Hospice became my second home.  Everyone here was so obliging and so helpful.”

Bob said when his wife passed away, it was earth-shattering.  “To be married to someone for so long and then lose them—it can be very isolating.  Eventually, I started looking for things to do.”

Bob has become an active member of our St. Joseph’s Hospice programming and services.  He gets a weekly massage at our Hospice spa, helps host Hospice barbecues, assists with gardening, and has developed a close friendship with our chef at Hospice, Allan Barnfield, through the “Connecting through Cooking” class.

Bob has made friends in the programs at St. Joseph’s Hospice and now looks forward to the daily activities he has planned.  He also enjoys volunteering his time at Hospice whenever possible.

“I felt like I needed to give back after all that [Hospice] did for me.  To have somewhere to go after losing my wife of 51 years—it gave me a little extra each day.”

Linda’s death took place around Christmas, and Bob said the memory will stay with him forever.  He keeps her picture over the fireplace mantle, and cherishes the time they spent together.

Bob has two daughters and four grandchildren keeping him busy, as well, although these days he says he needs some notice before getting together with anyone.  With all the programs and activities he’s involved in, “you need to book time in advance,” he said with a laugh.

Bob has done his best to fill his world, and fulfill Linda’s final appeal to him.  “I’ve expanded my horizons,” he said.  “St. Joseph’s Hospice helped me find my way.”