As the specter of the COVID pandemic continues to destroy lives, it also does much to distance us from our loved ones. What no illness can destroy, however, are those priceless bonds of love and friendship that are truly unbreakable. In her beautiful submission to Show Us Your Sunshine, Veronica Tourgeman, Director of Visiting Angels Living Assistance Services in Spring Hill, reminds us that friendship never dies. It only multiplies.
Veronica brings us the story of Dianne, the daughter of a now-deceased Visiting Angels client.
"COVID has been difficult for so many of our seniors and their families. It has been especially difficult for seniors that were living in assisted living facilities. In the height of COVID, facilities were placed under lock-down and only medical/clinical help was allowed in," she explained. "We received a call in September from a daughter of a resident that was having a hard time with the isolation and wanted to make sure her mother received essential supplies she often took in for her."
"We spent the next 3 months testing our caregiver weekly for COVID so that we could meet the ALF’s criteria to continue visiting her mother," she continued. "We took in the supplies from her daughter, and we did our best to keep her mother’s spirits lifted while awaiting the vaccine that was just getting ready to be distributed so that she could once again hug her daughter."
Yet according to Dianne, Visiting Angel Rachel delivered far more than supplies to her mom. She also brought a hearty dose of sunshine.
"I found this incredible organization in September, 6 months into the pandemic, for my mother who resided in an ALF. (I can’t express how difficult it was going from visiting my mom almost every day.... to not at all, due to the understandable mandates on facilities). Many window visits and phone calls were now my only communication with Mom. I emotionally called this organization and spoke to Veronica at the end of September to see if they were able to go into facilities as essential workers/companions for the elderly," Dianne explained. "The blessing answer of yes was the best news in a long time! The joy it brought to my mom for the 3 months before she passed was a gift to not only her but us as well. She always looked forward to Tuesday and Thursday when Rachel would come, it brought her so much joy and excitement, it would melt my heart."
Sadly, Dianne's mother contracted COVID. "On December 10th, our caregiver was informed upon entry that they had active COVID cases and that they were not allowing ANY outside visitors. We were later notified on Dec. 19th that our client had also tested positive," said Veronica. "Sadly, on Dec. 30th, our client succumbed to complications of COVID."
Following the death of the patient, what lingered was the cheer and companionship that a Visiting Angel had delivered in the course of her final months.
"In early January, her daughter reached back out to us," Veronica explained. "She said she had asked her family and friends in lieu of flowers to send donations in her mother’s honor to our organization." In Dianne's mind, it was the right thing to do. "Of course not uncommon, my family and I had decided to pay forward what we were gifted, to possibly someone else in the same situation, by requesting in her online obituary memorial that donations be made to the organization that brought her joy during this lonely time," she said. And, in the minds of Visiting Angels’ administrators, one good turn deserves another.
"We were so overcome by her generosity and giving heart, that we have decided to also pay it forward in honor of her mother. We have decided to take every penny donated (and a little extra) and offer it over as 20 hours of services for someone in need that may not be able to otherwise afford it," said Veronica. "She was overcome with emotion that her mother would be able to now touch someone else’s life through our Angels."
Extending the circle of generosity to the Hernando community, Visiting Angels created a contest that promised their own Random Act of Kindness, in the form of more than 20 hours of caregiving service to the contest winner.
"Happy "Random Act of Kindness" Day!" a Facebook post read. "We are celebrating kindness today because we know everyone can use more kindness in their lives! We have decided to gift FREE services to a Senior or Disabled adult in Hernando County. Yes, you read that right... Free!"
The winner of the Random Act of Kindness will no doubt form their own magical connection with their Visiting Angel.
Send your own good news to Hernando Sun community reporter Megan Hussey at [email protected].