This is my second week working in the Hospice program here at Lansing max/med. security prison. It’s been an emotional rollercoaster, but mostly rewarding.
My Hospice patients name is Mr. Kelly. He is 68 and serving 40 months for possession of less than one gram of meth. Nonviolent offender, but does have past criminal history. He looks healthy, talks fine, but feels weak. He has stage four cancer of the liver. It has traveled throughout his body and at this point too troublesome to treat with his health.
I basically am going into this with little to no training. I’ve gained a “Human Services” certificate from Louisiana State University which consisted of taking 15 credit hours in service related classes, so I have that eduactional experence. (That was actually one of my first long term goals I accomplishes in prison. When I got that cerficicate, I was working as a GED tutor and went to every staff member I sow that day to show off my certificate… a very rewarding feeling)
The training that was provided for the hospice program was watching a 2 hour video that was an Oprah special about the Hospice program in a max. security prison down south.
On my first visit to meet Mr. Kelly, I was extreamly nervous. Will he be angry? Upset? Violent? I didn’t know…
After I spent a few minutes talking to Kelly, I found out we have a lot of similarities. He’s been through a lot of the same struggles as I. He has a compassionate heart just as I do (he was arrested with the meth in his pocket when he made a midnight rescue call to toe a friend out of the ditch.) Now he is 6months into a 40 month sentence with no hope of recovery.
So what do I do??? That is the question going through my head as I sit with Kelly. We talked a lot. He complained that he didn’t have a radio or TV and that he had no money to buy one. I’ve spoke to the warden of this facility Mr. Sam Cline several times, and I’ve always known him to be fair and just. I told Kelly, why don’t we write a letter to the warden and see if we can get you something to pass the time a little easier. When I went to visit Kelly earlier today, I sow that Mr. Sam Cline had helped him and he now has a radio free of charge. I felt that I helped in a small way. You’ve got to know how things work around the prison. Afer doing 11 years as I have, you get to know ways of getting things done, and I had a pretty good feeling this is something Mr. Cline would help with. Thats jsut the kind of guy he is.
I asked Mr. Kelly what I could do for him “right now” to help him feel better. I am a big Eckhart Tolle fan of living in the now. I’ve been hooked since I’ve read his first book years ago. Mr. Kelly told me it might help to walk a few laps in the clinic, so we did that. He said he felt better after getting a bit of exercise.
Kelly then asked me if I would write a letter to his family for him, as his writting at this point isn’t legible. He explained to them how much he loved them and explained some personal things from the past. It was a bit emotional for me to write this death bed letter for him, but I knew it was something that was exteamly important to him, and I hope to his family as well.
As the night got late, Mr. Kelly asked me to read a story from the Bible for him. I asked him what story he wanted to hear. He said start from the beginning. I read several chapter of Genises as Kelley dozed off into a sleep. I remember my father reading to me when I was young and I would go to sleep to the story. It brought back some rather pleasant childhood memories for me.
When Kelly was well asleep, about 11pm, after I’d spent about 8 hours with him talking most of it, I tucked the covers around him and left to go back to my cellhouse.
I’ve really enjoyed this experence with Hospice. I feel it is helping me grow and experence the world in a new light. If anyone has any adive you’d like to share with me, or ideas of things I may pass along to Mr. Kelly, please share with me. I really don’t know what I am doing… I don’t have much experence with death, I don’t know what to say to him a lot of the times, espically when he starts talking about dieing. But I listen. And I try to understand where he is coming from.
I will keep you guys and ladies up to date on how this goes for me.
Blessings and positive wishes to you!!!