Hospice Care – Ed’s Story
As a key speaker at Handbags for Hospice 2018, Sue Willsey shared her husband’s experience at St. Joseph’s Hospice:
Ed was known for his adventurous spirit and love of nature and travel. In November 2014, when Ed was diagnosed with ALS, we immediately travelled to Costa Rica and Nicaragua. Then came California, Jamaica, Memphis, and Nashville. This is how we spent our first few months after Ed was given his terminal diagnosis. We decided that St. Joseph’s Hospice would be our last adventure together. While the thought of change was not easy for Ed, the thought of another adventure was.
Our decision to move to Hospice was confirmed immediately upon our arrival when Ed was unable to stand from the transport wheelchair and immediately RPN Rachel took charge, started problem-solving and with great respect and dignity transported Ed to the bed! The lift was the first of his many adventures at Hospice. The lift was his zip-lining experience!
Suite two became our second home. Our family home is on a ravine so overlooking the wooded area with deer wandering through, so our new suite felt just like home. What we thought would be a short stay turned out to be more than three months. Every other weekend our granddaughter Aaliyah, and sons Brad and Craig, travelled from Brampton and Toronto to visit. Suite two was full of private family time, storytelling, and laughter.
The biggest adventure was all about Ed’s beloved Toronto Maple Leafs! They were winning….and kept winning! Not only that, but EVERYONE was cheering for them. I converted Ed’s room into a Leaf’s Man Cave bringing all of his memorabilia from home.
The staff were quickly coming up with ideas to keep this adventure going strong. It turned out that one of the nurses, Abby, had a family connection with Darryl Sittler. On April 20th, 2017 with the Leafs still going strong, Ed received a call from one of his favourite Leafs, Darryl Sittler.
This is how we spent our last few months after Ed had lived with ALS for over three years. Ed did it his way at Hospice and St. Joseph’s Hospice staff and volunteers supported him and our family through that journey.
There were so many special relationships built and I am very grateful to the caring and compassionate staff and volunteers who became our friends and family for his final three months.
To honour her Papa, Ed’s granddaughter, Aaliyah Gallant-Barons, started fundraising in 2015, at the age of 7, by converting Ed’s garden shed into an art studio and selling her Art. As of March 2019 Aaliyah has raised $28,500 and began a Virtual Lemonade Stand to help raise funds for ALS Canada and St. Joseph’s Hospice
Take a look at her progress and make a donation:
Thanking Sue and Aaliyah for all of their support, St. Joseph’s Hospice organized a meet and greet with local philanthropist and Toronto Maple Leaf, Nazem Kadri, along with tickets to a game courtesy of Harris Funeral Home.
“Our sincere appreciation to St. Joseph’s Hospice for once again going “above and beyond” for our family! Ed’s passing has been an exceptional struggle for Brad, Craig, and Aaliyah and this was such an amazing evening to honour Ed’s memory and his beloved Leafs. We are most grateful. Go Leafs Go!” – Sue Willsey.