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Why I love volunteering at Iowa City Hospice

November is National Palliative Care Month, and I would like to reflect on why I love being a volunteer at Iowa City Hospice.

I enrolled in a hospice volunteer class not very long after we moved here in 2008. The rewards have been great, given the terrific people I've met and had the privilege of caring for as they end their life's journey. People become so dear very quickly in this type of service. I've been honored to take care of remarkable people with catastrophic illnesses, and I've witnessed how they've lived life to the fullest.

Hospices can provide comfort, care, and compassion — maybe just by being there, reading to them, listening to their stories, sitting close by, as their life comes to a close. Some have died in my arms. There is something about that happening that cannot be described. It feels holy to me.

I love helping people write stories to leave for their families. It is such fun, and it feels good to know that memories have been preserved for a precious grandchild.

Once, I was at the bedside of a woman I'd been caring for as her time was growing very short. She loved romance novels and Elvis Presley. So, that night I read to her from the story we'd been reading, and I played Elvis CDs for her. Did she hear the music? I think so.

Sometimes just being a caring presence for a family and the person who is your patient is enough — just being there, caring, holding a hand — hospice care can provide a truly invaluable service.

Bobbie Paxton
Iowa City resident

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