Gateway Gazette

Foothills Country Hospice: Celebrating Father’s Day

Gotzke Family Story

Foothills Country Hospice has gained a very special place in our family’s lives. I will never forget the day we walked into the building for our tour of the facility on behalf of my Dad, Roland Gotzke. The feeling I had the moment we walked in was surreal, hard, but beautiful at the same time. You knew this place was special. We were greeted by the kindest people, all so welcoming. I remember walking into the family room, a beautiful space with full glass windows surrounded by trees and a variety of birds singing. My aunt and I looked at each other smiling, yet holding back tears. As someone who never wanted to think about “death”, I knew this was going to be our Dad’s special place and one that would become even more special for our family.

Prior to Foothills Country Hospice, Dad was staying at the hospital and man, he hated the food! When we got the call that there was a room available at Foothills Country Hospice, one of the first questions asked was what kind of food would Dad like. He quickly responded with his favorite – a strawberry milkshake and homemade burger with fries. The smile on his face was absolutely spectacular! I will never forget it. By the time we arrived at hospice, dad could no longer walk, yet with the layout of the facility and paved walking paths, we were able to take beautiful walks with him outdoors while he remained in his bed or wheelchair. These walks included a water fall, beautiful landscapes of endless fields with the soft sounds of birds surrounding us. It didn’t feel like the hospitals we had previously spent so much time in. Dad felt at home. We were even able to personalize his room. The walls were covered in his favorite paintings and his sailboat pillow remained by his side.

There were so many moments that made our time so special, including the staff always going out of their way to ensure we were comfortable; the children’s room that kept our kids entertained, allowing my sisters and I to be able to focus on our time with Dad; fresh cookies for the family; and willingness of the nurses to always answer the hundreds of questions we would ask… what will happen next? Will we know when its time?

Fathers Day 2017, our family was able to have the family room to ourselves and we all brought in Dad’s favourite foods. There was laughing, smiling, singing  and amazing memories that we now smile about. I remember the moment we were told our last days were ahead of us, I remember crying in the nurses arms and her patiently holding me. It always felt like we were surrounded by family. When our special day arrived, I have never felt so much love and comfort, and I can’t thank the staff enough. We knew we weren’t the only residents at Foothills Country Hospice, but in that moment it felt like we were. I still smile at the thought of the angel with the candle lit for our Dad, and the note softly hanging down with our Dad’s name on it. That was the day our Dad earned his angel wings.

For those of you going through your own journey, Foothills Country Hospice brings comfort and peace and I am not longer scared about the idea of those final precious moments. The journey also doesn’t end when the angel candle is lit. Often it is the start of a new journey, one exploring what this new life without your loved one looks like. Foothills Hospice played a huge role in helping our family through this process – one that was harder than we had expected it would be. Thank you to each and every one of you at Foothills Country Hospice for the love and compassion you showed our family.

-With so much love, Tanya Stembridge

In memory of her dad, Tanya is organizing Yoga for A Cause on Sunday, June 21 (Father’s Day) with all proceeds going to Foothills Country Hospice. For more info, visit https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/yoga-for-a-cause-tickets-106010040886

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