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Hike for Hospice Honorary Chair 2024

Good morning everyone,
Its truly an honour to have been asked to be this years honorary chair for todays Hike for Hospice.
This place holds very special significance for my family and I, as it was here- just one year ago this month, that our Grandma – our Queen Jean, passed away with comfort and dignity that she so well deserved.
Grandmas story is maybe not as common as most. At almost 94 years of age, she was sharp as a tack. She was the matriarch of our very large family: 6 kids, 6 kids in law, 19 grandchildren, 20 great grandchildren, with 2 more on the way when she passed. Her family was in every way, her world. Due to renal failure, Grandma was dependant on dialysis for over 3 years. It was therefore difficult news to bear that the dialysis treatments were no longer working, and her medical team advised us that her passing could be days to weeks.
We were blessed that in that time of uncertainty and sorrow, Rotary Hospice was there to provide a beautiful space for her final stage of life, and to help all of us say goodbye.
Over the next few days Grandmas transition was marked by serenity and respect. She was surrounded by family, enveloped in love, and tended to by professionals who treated her with the utmost dignity. The staff were quick to acknowledge our very large family, and accommodated us with an extra room across the hall from Grandma just so we could be together. They embraced us with deep understanding and support through compassionate conversations and ongoing thoughtfulness.
As I mentioned on the radio interview this week, I left Hospice at one point on the weekend of Grandmas stay to grab lunch for our family, and I remember walking down the hall listening to the music echoing through the building. I walked out to the parking lot and I just stood- staring back at the beautiful building. I remember thinking to myself ‘this place will always be special to us’, and making a mental note that this would be a place to give back to in some way, some day.
Grandmas stay was only 6 days. On the night she passed the staff honored her with a processional down the hall with her quilt draped over her bed. My Dad (a Rotary Hospice volunteer), was able to play some of her favourite hymns on the piano as the staff and our family walked Grandma out the doors. They lit the memory candle and stood with us in the stillness of the night as we watched the hearse depart. Our experience at Rotary Hospice was unique in its rare and calming grace. This hospice provided our Grandmother and indeed our entire family, with an environment of harmony that outweighed the pain of our loss.
I know standing here in each others company, many of us share a common bond. We may have similar stories about our experience with Rotary Hospice, we may be grieving, and I’m sure many of us feel a mutual sense of gratitude for the incredible team at Rotary Hospice who have not only provided medical expertise, but also empathy, patience, and profound respect for our loved ones while easing our burdens.
Although Grandmas stay was only 6 days, in that short time our family grew to understand the purpose and importance of hospice. Today as we gather to support this vital and special facility, I ask you to reflect on the importance of the work being done here. Hospice care is an essential service, yet its one that often goes unnoticed until we need it ourselves.
By supporting Rotary Hospice Stratford Perth, we are ensuring that others can receive the same compassionate care our families did.
I want to thank Lucie at Rotary Hospice, and the amazing folks who have organized todays event. But most importantly, thank you for your participation today, and for your fundraising efforts, generosity, and unwavering support. Its through our collective efforts that Rotary Hospice Stratford Perth can continue its noble mission, providing the rare and calming grace to all who enter its doors.

Thank you,
Shannon O’Shea

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