Matilda

Matilda

August 21, 2020

Grief, 2019

I thought I was ready for 2019. I was newly single and knew that living on my own was going to take some getting used to. I threw myself into smoothing out our new home, our first full year under our belt. Our staff grew and volunteers grew. It was great to have the buzz of activity around us.

Early in the year, our longtime friend, Glenne returned to the hospital for yet another procedure. I had first encountered Glen by phone in early 2017. He had called to explain that he was declining, had kidney failure, refusing dialysis, and would be going into hospice care. I explained our process and told him I would put him on our list and call when we had availability. We were still in our old building and stairs could sometimes be an issue, as well as shared rooms. I couldn’t use an empty bed in a room with a woman to house a man. Glen said he would call back and check in. He did, a lot. His last phone call to me took place while I was in the hospital. I had found out the day before that I have a heart condition and was being watched overnight.  He had called more than twice in a row, so I answered. He explained that he was sleeping under some bushes downtown and that he was scared. I told him to go straight to the house. I called Mark and asked him to please get a space ready for him. The next day we met in person. Do you ever meet people and feel like you’ve known them a long time? That’s how it was with Glen. He hadn’t been with us long when he decided he had a good life with us, one he wanted to continue. So, he began dialysis and doctors' appointments once again.  Glen also shared with me that he wanted to live the rest of his life as his true self, and that was as a woman. I was shocked to hear how supportive the VA hospital was! He had therapy and groups to assist with the transition and surgery. Glen spent a long while deciding on her new name. After much debate she chose “Glenne”.  There were some ups and downs. At one point, all Glennes items were boxed up at her request and I was asked to dispose of them. Thankfully I thought better of that and stored them. We had spent a lot of time building that wardrobe! Glenne began to suffer complications of diabetes and was spending more time being hospitalized. She went back and forth on whether she wanted to continue her journey. She loved Wendover and would regularly head there on the fun bus to play poker and meet for dinner with one of our longtime volunteers that lives there. One visit resulted in a heart attack at the poker table, a helicopter ride to the hospital in Salt Lake and a cab home because she didn't want to be admitted and didn't want us to find out. She was so stubborn and could be so grumpy. But she had a soft side and I adored her. She left us in February last year and I miss her constantly, especially her laugh.

The summer was cruel. In August my neighbor, close friend and coworker Jill lost her father Dave. He was one of the funniest, kindest and most entertaining men I have met. I was grateful to get to know him. I have lots of experience grieving alongside our resident's families and plenty of experience grieving myself but watching someone I love suffer a sudden loss was something that I felt completely unprepared for and inadequate. Just a couple of weeks following this my kids found out their dad had terminal stomach cancer and was given 6 months to live. He passed in October of that year. When my mom came to help us through that first week, she told me my sister had been diagnosed with cancer just the day before. I am thankful that she is doing well.

When I returned to work, I was surrounded by love. Both by our staff and by our residents. I worried about my ability to be fully present for our residents. With the help of some of our amazing chaplains and grief counselors, I managed through. I came out of this experience feeling even more equipped to stand by the side of those suffering through these experiences.

I ended our first full year in our new building feeling good about all that we had accomplished. Things were running smoothly; our neighbors had rallied around us and were volunteering and supporting us. We were serving so many people that were in desperate need of some respite and care. Our staff was growing and beginning to mesh. We looked forward to all that 2020 could bring!

Read Glenne's obituary here.

Please take a moment to hep The INN Between give someone a safe and supportive haven in their final days so that, like Glenne, they can leave this earth knowing their life mattered and that they deserve dignity and to be remembered. Donate today to our 5th Anniversary Campaign.

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August 20, 2020

Moving Day, 2018

The new year brought big changes. Kim had found a facility that was shutting down and we quickly jumped on the opportunity to move into a place already built and suited to our needs. We went from leisurely planning a dream building, to full blown moving mode quick! We had also been admitting quite a few new residents that were presenting new challenges. We also found a round of new neighbors that were very vocal about their concern over us operating in their neighborhood. It was a lot to take in. I tried to keep our daily routine as normal as possible in our house and we talked a great deal about what some of the changes would look like. I spent a lot of time worrying how the move would affect our residents. Then our house manager left.

Mark had been with us for a couple of years. He left maybe once or twice a month for an hour or two but was otherwise always on the property. He could be gruff, was super opinionated and had no filter. He was well loved in our home and he could be counted on for almost anything. He left one afternoon and said he’d be back in a couple of hours. When it had begun to get late, we finally checked his room after our calls went unanswered and discovered he had moved out.

From the get-go Kim was adamant that we were not going to sneak into the neighborhood and made all efforts to be as transparent as possible and address everyone's concerns. I will admit, I am incredibly protective and defensive of our residents and the meetings and comments were difficult for me. I am proud of the fact that we have never had a major incident with any of our residents. I tried my best to shield our residents from comments that would make them feel less than welcome. It was difficult and there was a lot of concern. June 1st was move in day for our residents and me. We had a couple of residents that walked in and decided it wasn’t for them. It was a lot bigger and so different from our tiny home we had been accustomed to. Then, word was out that we had more beds available and we received even more referrals. In an effort to ease in and get our feet on the ground we increased our census very slowly.

We added a new house manager, John and luckily, he has stuck with us and is still here! Our first Christmas we had trees everywhere instead of the one we could barely fit at the old house. We lost Mike Oman that year on Christmas. His wife had not moved in with us until he had been here a couple of months and had been battling cancer herself. I am glad she was able to be with him. She stayed for a while after he died and even worked with us while she adjusted. I am happy to report, she is doing well. This was also the year that Ms. Kay moved back in with us. After having left us and moving throughout several other facilities she had decided to travel. She fell asleep on a Greyhound on her way to Florida but somewhere in Tennessee her purse was stolen, and she ended up landing there. She had spent one cold winter there and the police chief couldn’t stand to see her suffer another. He contacted us and I reached out to one of our local chiefs and he got her a ticket back! I had followed Ms. Kay facility to facility until she disappeared and had spent a year trying to track her down, so I was thrilled to have her back with us.

One of my favorite stories from 2019 was about David. He had come to the INN for respite but quickly went on service with hospice. His decline was fairly quick, and his hospice agency asked if he had a wish. He asked for a police scanner. David had spent time in prison and struggled with substance abuse. A few people in the house made fun of his wish and a few felt like there was some sort of scheme behind it. David passed in February of that year, the same day as one of our younger residents also named David. The scanner was picked up by the agency and I thought that was the end of the story. When we got to the new building and had been here a few months I received a call from a woman. It was David’s sister. She had read his obituary and read about the scanner. She was sobbing as she recalled that when they were growing up, their back deck overlooked the valley. Every evening she and David would sit with their parents and listen to the scanner and watch the lights correspond with the calls. It made her so happy to know that his dying wish was something that connected him to his memories growing up.

We started 2017 by celebrating the life of Robert Burr. A true lesson in perseverance, he had lived far past his expected time and continued all his beloved activities with a seriously diminished heart function. A week before Christmas, I was called by our house manager and Robert was gasping for breath and asking me to hurry there. When I arrived, he was turning purple and was rushed to the hospital and intubated. I received a call the next day from his daughter and she said I could come say goodbye before they removed the ventilator. He looked so peaceful; I was so glad to have had that chance at goodbye. My tears were barely dry when I got a call later that day that Robert had woken up, demanded the tubes out and wanted to return home to us. He was in his bed by that evening and Robert spent his last week on his own terms, with his family hovering over him before he passed away in the early hours the morning after Christmas.  

This fighting spirit was the theme for 2017. I witnessed some amazing recoveries and some serious fights for just a little more time. One of our residents kept his nurse and I on our toes as he seemed to come back after three “time of death” calls. I am constantly amazed at the human spirit and what our bodies can do! We had one week in 2017 that we lost five people, two in one day. Kathleen and Mark, our house managers, were amazing partners and the three of us managed to care for everyone in a way that I don’t think anyone felt they were not the only one in need of our time. We lost Billy that week, one of our longer-term residents. I was asked to attend his graveside service by his family, something we are not usually invited to. I was asked to speak, and it remains one of my most special days.  

Along with our usual day to day operations, Kim had begun talking about expanding our capacity. This was the year that we began looking at building something bigger. There were a lot of meetings, planning and daydreaming about what we would like our space to look like and how we could improve on our facilities to better serve our residents. We were really picking up a great deal more referrals and beginning to take in some more difficult clients. We were beginning to serve some of the “high utilizers”, individuals that frequently used EMS and ER services. We worked hard to help triage some of those possible visits to reduce the calls and address situations, often anxiety fueled, at home without having to resort to outside services.  

As we started to succeed and prove the benefits of our services the calls continued to pour in. This was the year I started to receive calls from different community partners as they were outreaching to higher risk individuals that might be a fit for our program. I have found that meeting people where they are at is something that builds a good rapport. I also like to meet people in the hospital for that same reason. It’s nice to get to explain what we are about and what our home is like. It is nice being a familiar face when someone walks in for the first time.  

The year was looking to end fairly quietly. We had hit our stride and things were running smoothly. That’s when Kim called me and asked if I could go look at a building with her.  

Please help us honor our 5 years of care and compassion by donating to our 5th Anniversary Campaign. Your donation will be matched, dollar for dollar. Click here to view our campaign.

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Our second year was our first full year, and we kept busy! With our goal being to provide a place for people to die with dignity we were suddenly faced with the question, what if someone gets better? It had been six months since Ben had walked through our doors. He had been given just weeks left to live; yet, he was now facing being discharged from hospice as he no longer qualified. This was such great news but was a lot to process for Ben. We made sure he had people to talk with and started mapping out what the future might look like. I will always be grateful to Ben, we learned a lot together. There are a lot of hurdles to face when you are suddenly on your own and I think Ben encountered the majority of them. Through it all, we kept in touch and I am so proud to say that several years later Ben has been doing great.  

This was when we began our protocol of not only providing a stay to address the acute medical condition but also the time to process that and plan for the future. It’s a delicate balance to provide enough time to complete that process and not too much time that it becomes enabling. I began to seek out advice and training in how to connect people to services once they were no longer living with us. I tried to help people learn skills that would enable them to manage their own care. How to schedule appointments and plan to follow through and actually get to the appointments. We started assisting people with Medicaid and social security applications. I quickly learned that when someone moves out on their own, they have less of a chance to succeed if they don’t continue to have the support of stable case management.  

We lost a few people in our second year that had moved out on their own. I remained in touch with them and checked in regularly. I was honored to have been able to spend time with them in their final days and receive the call when they had passed. Rick Silva passed just minutes after I left him at the hospital. After living with us for several months, he chose to leave and live in VA housing. He had only been moved out for a month or so before he wound up at his final hospital stay. His mother and I still speak regularly. 

Along with learning how to care for our residents in that second year, I was also learning how to be a working member of our community. I experienced so many firsts. I went to my first ever conference as a speaker (photo shown)! It was in Michigan and I saw my first ever firefly and I am still talking about it. I started meeting community partners and learning about all the great services available in our city. I spoke in front of city council meetings and we began a neighborhood advisory council. I once stepped in and spoke to a woman's group in a member's home when Kim was sick. As I walked out of their back room where I was leaving my coat, I missed a step, slipped and fell flat on my face. I still can’t believe that no one saw it!  

Our house grew that year and I still get the same warm feeling when I think about walking through the back door of our home and seeing someone in the kitchen making coffee. People gathered around the table eating breakfast. Our house manager Mark asking me how many eggs I’d like and catching me up on what happened after I left the night before. Walking past the garage and catching at least two people smoking. I do not think I ever saw that room empty. I started to relax a little in that second year as I felt more comfortable in my role. But I always kept my eye out for steps. 

Please consider making a donation to help celebrate our 5th Anniversary and to ensure we continue to offer our services for many years to come by clicking here

Continue reading about our friends who passed with us at The INN Between in 2016 by visiting our Obituaries page here. 

Five years ago, today The INN Between opened it’s doors. I had been following it closely, having signed up a month prior to volunteer. It would still be a couple of weeks before I walked through the doors to begin my service, but I feel it had already had me in its grip and my life was on a new path. 

My first day volunteering was spent cutting fruits and vegetables to freeze in the kitchen at the old Guadalupe school. I spent hours doing that and getting to know Maria who was managing the operation as a volunteer. My first day there I met Jim. He had walked over from the old convent next door where our residents were residing. I answered the door and introduced myself. He introduced himself as Charles Manson and his laugh sealed our friendship. We didn’t have many people there at that time, just three when I began. Olivia died on my second day of volunteering. Thomas shortly after. I knew Thomas, he had been a staple at the Costco by my house. He was friendly and had regular visitors bringing him various things. He died of kidney failure with our house manager Chris at his side. I made cupcakes for his service but could not attend due to a previously planned trip with my family. As I was preparing to leave Maria called me and asked if I would consider applying to be the volunteer coordinator. She lived in Arizona and it was time for her to head home. I spent that weekend with my family, and we talked over what me returning to work would look like and if we were ready for that. I had been very fortunate after my own struggles with homelessness and struggling to survive, to have remarried and had the opportunity to be a stay-at-home mom. My youngest was 10 and this would be a big change. I  felt strongly that this was what I was meant to do, where I was meant to be. I made plans to meet with Kim Correa the day I returned. 

I began the interview with “I have no experience and no schooling”. I was off to a great start. Kim said she just felt I was the person for this job and asked if I could start that day. I said I could only work part time. I worked over 40 my first week. I think about that meeting a lot. The faith that Kim had in me lit a fire. I quickly learned that volunteer coordinating was so important but that running the house had to be first. I asked Kim if she was comfortable with me setting some ground rules and she said that she trusted me to do whatever I felt necessary. I ran with that. My confidence grew and our program grew. She allowed me to build the program as I saw fit and pushed me towards connections, trainings and conferences that would help build my knowledge and skills. 

My family was so supportive. My youngest was home schooling for a brief time when I started, and she was our secretary at the front desk at the school. She celebrated Jim’s birthday with us just before he died. My sons both played guitar and drums with various residents. My oldest daughter became an EMT and was a regular visitor for lunch. My husband organized his work Christmas parties to benefit The INN Between. It was not without its heartache though. Dying does not happen on a schedule. There were a lot of middle of the night calls, running to sit with someone or make calls to family to let them know their loved ones have left us. Scared calls from someone that just needed reassurance they were not alone. Sometimes my kids got frustrated. I sometimes felt torn and I struggled to find a balance. 

I have always been a talker; I get that from my mama. There are no strangers, just people you have not yet met. I cannot tell you how lucky I am to get to meet so many people. Volunteers, community partners, teachers, and activists but, most of all our residents. Going out to provide outreach to someone is one of my favorite things. To meet someone in their space and shake their hand and sit and talk is where I feel most at home. Being able to bring them into our home and help care for them is a bonus. Not everyone chooses to take that opportunity and that’s okay too. Our relationship continues, just outside the walls of The INN Between. 

Don’t get me wrong. Not all memories are sweet. I know what end stage liver failure looks like and can spot the signs a mile away. I know what an overdose looks like and have experience with Narcan. I have seen how mental illness can convince you that steel wool can clean a wound better than anything else. I know what tumors look like if they are left untreated. I know what the face of someone with a life of regret looks like as they cry and wish for more time. These are important things to remember too sometimes.  

The first year of The INN Between was special. It was so new; we were just figuring it out as we went. We were lucky that it was filmed by KUED and I like to go back once in a while and watch it. Seeing everyone alive and hearing their voices fills me with love and renews my passion for The INN Between. I keep phone messages for this same reason. Hearing Jimmy say, “Hey sugar, come talk to me when you get here.” Or Harry, reminding me that he’s moving in today and can I please come pick him up. I have beautiful letters from so many and Kelly gave me a card for every holiday imaginable. Every night I walk my dog past the deli that Tom worked in and I say hi to him. I dropped him off there so many times, scolding him for not bringing his inhaler, making sure he had a ride back to the INN. I still talk to family members whose loved ones are long gone. We reminisce about final days and funny stories. My life is better for having known these people. I wish there were a way I could make our residents understand when they say they have left nothing behind or haven’t contributed to this world that they have left part of themselves. And not with just me. To all that are a part of the INN. The volunteers, the staff, the people that stop through to take a tour and remember that cantankerous woman who told them, all she needs in life is a cigarette. Or the man that drummed his heart out with not a care in the world. People remember. I remember. 

We usually celebrate our anniversary with a party. I remember the year Larry drank so much soda that he panicked. The year that we did the fishing game and Glenn had amassed a hoard of candy. And every year watching Kristiina go down the waterslide. I will miss that this year. I am going to celebrate this anniversary in this new world the best way I know how. By remembering. I will start at our first home, where so many memories remain as well as some of the ashes of those we loved. I’ll recall Char driving up to the parking lot after her long winter drive from Montana, coming to get treatment and begging for a hot cup of coffee. Billy bringing us a hamburger and French fries he made for lunch. Sitting at the dining room table with Candace trying to help her not stress about a thousand pieces of paper she wants to file before she dies. Sitting by John’s bed with my phone at his ear so his daughter can say her goodbyes from jail. I will walk into our new home, filled with so many more memories, Tim and BooBoo walking the halls, Harry lounging outside with a cigarette. Willy writing in his journal so his daughter can read about him someday. I’m looking forward to the next five years of memories, excited to see who I will meet and what new things I will learn to help assist those that need us.  

And you, I will think about all those that have walked through our doors over the past five years to help and love and support our mission and our residents. I look forward to seeing you all again soon I hope, thank you. We are so blessed.  

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November 23, 2018

A Thanksgiving Reunion

Kelly had been with us since last December fighting cancer. Before he came to The INN Between, he had been living in a motor home in Syracuse with no heat or running water. He was really hesitant to make a change but finally decided to give us a try. He got lost downtown on his way here and called me. I drove right over to get him, and he was surprised because he was used to people not following through on their promises. 

He started out in our dorm room at the old home in the Convent, sharing the space with three other men. I found out he was gong through chemo then taking the FrontRunner up to his trailer to feed his cat, so I moved him to a private room and told him to bring his cat home. He loved that cat!

Kelly was so sweet - he would leave me presents like little stuffed animals, candy and flowers. And he would make me hand written cards that conveyed how powerful friendship and hope are and how the love he felt here at The INN Between lit a fire within him to be a better person.  When we moved to our new building last June, Kelly was given a private wuite with his cat.  He was very handy and applied his skills to help with many of our plumbing and repair projects. He even worked on our cars!

Unfortunately, Kelly's cancer was spreading and he just couldn't do the chemo anymore.  He went on hospice care in late October. Kelly and his brother always had a complicated relationship.  But as Kelly's demeanor softened here at The INN Between, he was more open to rebuilding their relationship. Last month, the brother came to visit and took Kelly to lunch. Kelly later told us that this was the first time in his entire life that he and his brother had gone out to lunch together! 

Kelly's brother's heart softened too, and started fixing up a room in his house for Kelly. The day before Thanksgiving, we arranged medical transport to take Kelly home to be with his brother.  The day after Thanksgiving, Kelly passed away peacefully in his brother's home. Another resident at The INN Between adopted his cat.

December 07, 2018

I Can See!

As we head into the holidays, I’d like to share a heartwarming story that illustrates how our Medical Respite Program helps people. About a month ago, I got a call from Tim Keffer of the Salt Lake City Police Department’s Community Connection Center about a blind man named Ken.

Ken used to have an apartment and a job, and his life was stable. Then he developed cataracts and began to go blind. Over the course of a year, he lost everything–his job, his health insurance and his housing. Fourth Street Clinic was able to put Ken up in a motel, where he had been for three months.

Losing everything is difficult enough, and for Ken, living in a motel while blind had become unbearable. He says, “I had to figure out how go to the store to get food and do everything myself. It was pretty claustrophobic.”

Ken’s emotional wellbeing suffered and he was in constant fear for his safety, so much so that he was on the verge of contemplating something drastic. But instead, he called 911.

Tim was part of the Community Connections Center team that responded. Upon arrival, they saw how desperate Ken’s situation was and gave me a call. Fortunately, we had a bed open, and they were able to bring Ken right over. His eyes were like opaque clouds.

Ken told me, “When I came in to The INN Between, not being able to see, the people were all so nice. It’s like everyone is here to help you, and that was a lot different than what I’d just gone through.” Ken could only make out vague shapes, but he quickly learned how to get around the building and became very independent.  He felt safe and his emotional outlook improved dramatically. 

About a week after moving in, Ken had his first eye surgery at Moran Eye Center. Describing the surgery, he said, “It’s like they’re filleting a fish, and you’re watching it from the inside out.”  Our driver, Mark, spent a lot of time with Ken and was with him when the doctors removed his bandage. Ken had been told that it could be hours before he would be able to see, but he told us, “As soon as they opened my eye, I could see everything clearly. I looked at Mark and I could see his white beard – it was the first time I’d seen what he looked like.” 

Mark commented, “Before we went into the doctor’s office, Ken told me he needed a shave, and I said, ‘you ought to see my beard’ forgetting that he actually couldn’t see it.  I felt bad about saying that.  So when Ken looked at me and said, ‘Wow, I can see your long white beard and that you’re wearing a camouflage Ute ballcap,’ I got teary eyed out of joy.” 

With sight in one eye, Ken started spending more time hanging out with our other residents and helping out around our home wherever he saw a need. His second eye surgery did not yield the same immediate results, and he felt the setback keenly. He has had a follow up procedure and will probably require one more to fully regain vision in that eye.

Ken told me, “I am very grateful to Fourth Street Clinic and The INN Between, and especially Tim who got me into The INN Between. I’m so happy there’s someone out there like him doing things to help people like me.”

Today, Ken's eyes are bright and clear, and he has a very positive outlook. He says, “I left my job on very good terms, and I hope to go back as their season starts up in the spring.” He’s been a wonderful addition to our home and took on the job of taking out the trash in the dining room. He even wheels around our residents who need help.

With a new lease on life, Ken will soon be moved from our home back into the community where he can begin to rebuilds his life. We will continue to work with Ken through this process to ensure his success.

February 15, 2018

A Love Simple and Pure

I had gone to check on Daniel, and as I tried to open the door something was blocking it from behind. I squeezed my way in and saw that two chairs had been pushed together to make a bed, and in it, Daniel’s friend was sound asleep. I turned to leave quietly, and as I did Daniel awoke and called my name. His startled guest called out, “Daniel! Are you okay, baby?” Daniel struggled to grasp what was going on and, after a little soothing, he fell back into a deep sleep. I offered his friend some pillows or an extra blanket. She politely declined and settled back into her makeshift bed. As I left, I saw her watching Daniel intently. Something about this made my heart break and fill with love at the same time.

This friend was not Daniel’s wife or even a blood relative. She was a friend–one of several who visit to sit with Daniel as he continues to decline. They help clean his room, bathe him, change his bedding. They bring all kinds of different foods, begging him to just try a little. They stroke his hand when he’s in pain, they wipe his head with a cool rag when he’s sick. But mostly, they just sit and keep him company.

This is real love at its most simple and pure.

It’s the kind of love that flourishes here at The INN Between. It’s what makes one resident walk a mile to buy a ginger ale for someone in the house who is feeling sick. It’s what makes one man, who others find brash, carry another man upstairs to his room because he is too weak to walk. It’s what drives one woman to stay up all night sitting with a man who says he’s afraid to be alone.

In my two and a half years at The INN Between, I have watched our residents take care of each other. They look in on each other, share their food and belongings and call me with concerns about each other. Our home is full of love, and I witness it daily.

On Valentine’s Day, I passed out cards and candy to our residents. Several of them said that I shouldn’t have, they didn’t have anything to give me. I laughed and told them I didn’t expect anything. But, I wish I would have said that every day they give me something more valuable and sentimental than any cards or chocolates or gifts. They give me the opportunity to witness true acts of service, kindness and love toward the other members of our home–acts given from a place of genuine caring and concern. This is real love, simple and pure.

This year’s annual fundraising gala, A Night in The French Quarter, was a great success. It was a beautiful night that bubbled with excitement, wonderful food, and fun for all who attended. The night was full of conversations and laughter with many of our supporters, but the whole evening was extra special for me because it made me think of Jimmy Hew. 


Jimmy had been a resident at The INN Between in the fall of 2016. He had been in hospice for quite some time and was living in his van in his friend’s driveway before he was referred to The INN Between by his hospice nurse. Jimmy was very sick, and the nurse worried about him alone in that van as he was declining more. Jimmy was hesitant to make a move, but after coming to inspect us, he found it suitable and decided to move in.

My initial impression of Jimmy Hew, was that he was going to be a challenge and not easily satisfied. He was ready to die, and he wished it would come soon. But to my surprise and everyone else at The INN Between, Jimmy decided to just enjoy whatever time he had left. He made himself at home quickly and started showing off his skills in the kitchen. He regularly asked us things like, “Have you had steamed dumplings? I’m gonna turn you on to them!” and then wasted no time making them for everyone in the house. I often found him outside with his shirt off, enjoying the sun on his back. He danced and sang, and was a pleasure to have around and be around.

As I do with our residents estranged from family, I began asking Jimmy if I could contact his family. Our house nurse had warned him that I would be doing that, so he was prepared and quickly refused my request. I’m not one to back down, so I continued to ask him every day and finally he said, “Fine, you wore me down, I’ll call my sister.” One phone call later, plans were in motion for all three of his sisters to fly to Salt Lake City to see him – after more than twenty years they were all together again. Watching Jimmy with his sisters is something I will never forget. They cooked, talked, watched football, and made plans for Jimmy’s burial. They spent a week getting to know each other again. After his sisters left Jimmy seemed happier and said that he had the best week of his life.

A few days after his sisters returned home, Jimmy woke up dreaming of a good cup of coffee. He had been declining significantly over the previous days, so I knew the end was near. I got him in the car and we went for a cup together. He was so content and told me how happy he had been over the past few weeks. When we got back to The INN Between, we listened to some music and I helped him get into bed. Jimmy was never fully responsive after that. I let his sisters know I felt his time was close and they texted back messages to read to him. The texts were filled with stories to remind him of his beloved New Orleans. We talked about his life in the Big Easy and I promised him I would return there someday to see it through his eyes. Jimmy responded to these things with tears and as the afternoon came he closed his eyes and slipped away peacefully.

Fast forward to 2017 and our planning for our Night in the French Quarter. I started to think about Jimmy and his beloved New Orleans and wished he was around to help us come up with some ideas for the gala. It was then that I heard Jimmy whispering in my ear. He said, “You need a second line.” A second line is found in traditional brass band parades in the streets of New Orleans. They typically consists of onlookers joining in on the celebration and dancing in costumes and having a great time. It honors the past while moving forward. I decided that second line would be a perfect highlight to the night and a great way to remember the residents we had lost over the last year. As the night grew closer I honestly imagined a lot of people sitting in their chairs watching me and few others dancing, but deep down I knew it was a good idea.

Gala night finally arrived, and the whole night was a whirlwind of activity. Jillian Olmsted, our events coordinator, had everything running smoothly and the space was decorated beautifully. Jimmy’s sister, Charlice, had sent us a box of decorations including some beautiful masks and beads. It truly felt like a Night in the French Quarter. People were laughing, playing games, eating, and having a wonderful time. I prepared a slide show with pictures of the residents we had lost. As I read each of their names it was hard to not stop and tell their stories and the memories I had of them, I wanted everyone to know that they were people who had a sincere impact on me. I said the last name - Trudi, who had just passed earlier that week - I heard the band start. I turned around to the entire room on their feet, waving their handkerchiefs, dancing and following the band. This second line was more beautiful than I could have imagined. I wept with joy and joined the crowed. I think our 33 angels were there watching and were perhaps as overwhelmed as I was that they were receiving such an amazing act of remembrance. That moment will play in my “highlights reel” for the rest of my life. And when I recall it, leading that line will be Jimmy Hew and I’ll hear him saying, “Come on shug, time to boogie.”

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