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35 Years Of Infinite Love

03/06/2018 07:00AM ● Published by Robert Frey

Robin Ferguson on her wedding day with her mother Kitty Krampe.

Gallery: Hospice of Acadiana [3 Images] Click any image to expand.

Hospice Of Acadiana

By Suzanne Ferrara  |  Submitted Photos

“It was a treasure to be able to say our ‘goodbyes.’  Actually, we said our ‘see-you-laters’,” says a fervent Robin Ferguson about her final days with her mother, Katherine “Kitty” Krampe, who passed away 10 years ago. 

Krampe, who had diabetes, fought a long, hard battle for the last few years of her life; she wanted to live as long as possible for her family. Because of this deep desire to live, she became a warrior and endured great pain every time she received dialysis.  When she took a turn for the worse, doctors recommended daily dialysis, an agonizing feat that would put her in even more pain and agony.  It was at this point that an angel stepped into their lives. 

“Having the care and support of Hospice of Acadiana at the end of my mom’s life was simply immeasurable,” Ferguson continues. “It is difficult enough to deal with the loss of a cherished mom and grandmother, but to have to worry about managing her pain during that time would have been just too much to bear.”  To say those last five days of Krampe’s life would have a permanent effect on those she left behind is an understatement.  

It was during this time – with Kitty Krampe under Hospice of Acadiana’s care – that some of the deepest examples of Krampe’s undying love was passed on to her family.  In addition to the words of wisdom and love she told Ferguson during their special time together, Ferguson videoed her mother saying goodbye to all of her grandchildren, each of whom she loved immeasurably.  “She shared a special story about each one of them, and they were the hardest for her to leave.  I made CDs of the recording and gave them to my brothers for their children and I have mine,” adds Ferguson.

While everyone’s story of suffering and joy is different, one thing remains clear: the love and care Hospice of Acadiana’s staff provided during the hardest times of their clients’ lives was an answer to a prayer.  “Facing and accepting the end of life of a loved one is daunting.  It is a reality that, while we know it is inevitable, we hope to kick down the road of infinity,” says Fred Reggie of Lafayette.  Reggie’s father, Emile, was diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis and passed away in 1990.  “There was no medical means of reversing or even halting its progress,” adds Reggie.

While no words can describe the deep love Reggie and his father shared, or the pain from the broken heart of losing a loved one, Reggie speaks words of praise for the blessing that would forever be etched in his memory.  “Hospice of Acadiana helped make my father’s final days truly special gifts to us all. This was the first time that I had ever been placed in a position to discuss death with my father and accept the journey that would follow,” says Reggie.  Reggie is quick to name all the people with the Hospice of Acadiana who gave so much of themselves during his dad’s final days.  “They lovingly helped each of us grasp the fact that the end of life was actually a part of life itself.”

Years later, under the same roof, Reggie’s wife Pat called on Hospice of Acadiana to aid her with her 94-year-old father who was diagnosed with leukemia.   “I miss him so much,” says Pat.  But at the same time, she, too, says Hospice of Acadiana delivered to her an unforgettable gift.  “They provided me with the physical, spiritual and emotional support that our family and my dad needed to make his transition.” The relief of having so many things taken care of, and someone there whenever she needed, will never be forgotten.  “Everything was taken care of for us from the first moment the doctor and nurse came to the house for the initial evaluation.”   

Pat also reflects on the time when her husband’s father passed away and how tough it was on their children who needed grief counseling. “Psychological counseling and grief counseling is available during the time Hospice of Acadiana is caring for the patient and for a year after the patient dies, which was much needed when (their daughter) Sarah was a little girl and her grandfather died in our home.”

The preceding stories reflect the thousands of lives that have been touched by Hospice of Acadiana since its inception 35-years ago in Lafayette.  “A group of charter members said, ‘let’s get this together and make care available to everyone and it’s not about making a profit’,” says Kacee Thompson, Foundation Director of Hospice of Acadiana.  This team then made a trip to England and learned how much more could be done in Acadiana.   “You had this group of individuals who was so committed and so focused on caring for other people at a time when Hospice was just starting locally. They were visionaries, “says Thompson.

Thanks to these visionaries, Hospice of Acadiana just celebrated its 35th anniversary at a gala at Le Pavilion in Lafayette.  “The celebration is giving us an opportunity to publicly recommit ourselves as an organization both to our mission and to the people of Acadiana,” says Thompson.  Part of that effort includes educating the public on the differences between for-profit hospices and the non-profit Hospice of Acadiana.  “Not all hospices are created equal or are all alike.  Do your homework so you can understand the differences between hospice providers and what they offer.  People can select who their hospice provider is; so they should go with an organization they feel comfortable with and one they feel can meet all of their needs.”

Hospice of Acadiana serves nine Acadiana parishes and has an extensive list of cost-free benefits.  The lengthy list of services is wide-ranging, from taking care of a client’s pets to assistance with burial expenses, and they also provide massage, physical and occupational therapies. “We know we are not in position to change the trajectory of someone’s disease, but we are going to do everything in our power to make them as comfortable as possible.  This is free, not only for our Hospice patients but to other Hospice patients and their families, and it’s open to anyone in the community even if they are not a hospice patient,” adds Thompson.
To cover these costs, Hospice of Acadiana turns to fundraising, and its largest fundraiser, ‘Hit the Road with Hospice of Acadiana’ will celebrate its 20th anniversary on April 7. “Tickets are $20, and you get a chance to win a new car from Sterling Automotive, a travel camper from Gauthiers’ RV, or a 4-day cruise for two from Travel Machine.  You can purchase tickets online at www.hospiceacadiana.com; plus you can call us or go to the office on Johnston Street,” says Thompson.  Ticket sales end May 20, and the drawing will be streamed live on Facebook on May 24.

Also underway is the organization’s 2018 Education Campaign. “On all major mediums, you are going to start seeing us everywhere and learn how we are different.  We want people to know that it is about helping people live the time they have left as fully as possible, according to their desires and goals,” says Thompson. They’re also getting the word out through a new quarterly speaker and breakfast program called Sunnyside Up: A Positive Approach to Everyday Life.
Caring for even more lives is the goal. “We really want to get out there and make a positive impact on our community, because we feel that could have a ripple effect,” explains Thompson.  That infinite gift of love will live forever in the hearts of families like the Fergusons and Reggies.

So what about that priceless video Ferguson was able to record with her ailing mother saying her goodbyes to all of her grandchildren in her final days in 2007?  “It is probably about time to watch it with my children. It has been 10 years, and I think I am ready.  I still feel her presence continually, and I believe part of that was those cherished last few days.”
“For that, I am eternally grateful for Hospice of Acadiana.”
   


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