Walker said "thank you" more than any resident I've ever worked with at Omega House. He once sent another volunteer to tell me his eggs that morning were some of the best he'd ever had. (I had tried a new approach to scrambling, something I'd seen on the Food Network, but really they were just scrambled eggs!). He seemed so troubled when he had to ask for extra help -- like could we keep the mop bucket down the hall rather than at his door since the Pine Sol scent was too much for his emphysema-wracked lungs?
Walker once traveled a great deal. He was a veteran. He was from Mississippi. He loved country cooking and swapping recipes. A few months ago, he gained the freedom he'd been lacking when he got a new laptop and wirelessly connected with people and places from his past. He often spoke of "travels" he'd made right from his bed.
I learned Walker had died on Friday night at the volunteer Christmas party. On Saturday, I went to his room first. The silence was almost overwhelming. For months, the steady flow of oxygen was the sound that hit you first as you entered the room. Now ... nothing. After remembering Walker, I walked to Miles' room and thought once again of him. In a matter of moments, I learned Robyn had passed away as well. He was my veggie loving partner in crime who had taught me how to cook spaghetti squash on my last visit.
So much loss . . . but that's the way a hospice works. We are there for the dying. I'm glad, though, when we get to know something of their living before they leave us.