The Old Colony Hospice In Randolph MA

Back when my father was dying of cancer in 1999, I cared for him in my home during the last few weeks of his life.  Aside from getting myself through cancer treatment later in 2007, at the time this was the most difficult thing I had ever done in my life. My father already had two occurrences of colon cancer and was cancer free for over five years.  He had been complaining about a soar back and had been very depressed.  My mother had died in 1991 and he was never the same. But he was always complaining and soar so we just thought it was normal.  The soar back finally got so bad we had to take him to the ER.  After running through various routine tests he had an MRI.  That’s when they discovered that he had prostate cancer that had metastasized to his spine.  We were devastated.  He already had two operations, we had lost our mother and now this.  How could it possibly get worse? It did.  We sent him to a rehab hospital but after only one night he was miserable.  His nurse treated him terribly and he had an ancient room mate that moaned and groaned all night.  My father was only 69.  I spoke with the doctor and that’s when I was told that he was terminal.  I decided on the spot to take him home and use Hospice to help me care for him.

The people at Old Colony Hospice were wonderful.  They helped arrange for a hospital bed and supplies.  We had a nurse and an aid assigned, and a volunteer came over to sit with my father just to chat.  Coincidentally, I had recently received notice at work that our facility was shutting down and I had a 9 month retention package.  Things were very slow so I had  plenty of time to spend at home.

After about six weeks my father got worse, but he didn’t know he was terminal.  I had to tell him.  He kept telling me to take him to the hospital, so one day I had to tell him that we couldn’t take him.  I said “They fixed you the last two times but there’s nothing they can do this time”.  It was then that I literally saw the life draining from him.  From then on, which was only a week or so longer, he was different.  He gave in.  My mother was gone and he was starting to see her.  He was in extreme pain while he was awake.  He’d wake up in the middle of the night calling for me to help him.  It was the most helpless feeling ever.  I remember calling the hospice and telling them about the pain and they knew it was time.  They said “Dominic, you’re not going to talk to you’re father again”.  You have to keep him medicated and unconscious or he will be in severe pain. So I kept giving him sub-lingual morphine.  A few days later he was gone.

For a while after that I had received occasional mailings from Old Colony Hospice to see how I was doing or asking for donations.  I usually tossed them because it reminded me of something that was very uncomfortable.  But I felt guilty.

One day I decided that there was something I could do.  I have a large music collection, so I thought I might be able to become a volunteer for the Old Colony Hospice and play music for their patients.  I contacted them and they thought it was a great idea.  I took the mandatory training about a year ago and now I’m helping to bring a little happiness to those who many times may only have a short time left on this earth.  They already call me “The Music Man”.  It’s been very rewarding so far and I will continue doing it for as long as they need me.  If you’re ever looking for something that you can do for others that’s very rewarding, I recommend volunteering for your local Hospice.  If you’re in the Boston area, I highly recommend the Old Colony Hospice in Randolph.

2 comments to The Old Colony Hospice In Randolph MA

  • Cindy

    Hi Dom,

    The volunteer who brought out the show tunes CD’s said they “were a huge
    hit” and it was “wonderful” to play them for her patient and see the patient
    laughing and smiling and singing along. She said the patient knew almost all
    the songs, and it made her day to have a musical visit!

    Thank You for bringing “songs in the key of life” to the patients


  • Cindy

    Hi Dom,
    I am forwarding you this message about the response to the CD you made.
    Thank you so much for bringing joy into the patient’s lives.

    Have a good day,

    Hi Cindy,

    I just wanted to let you know that Gabby said thank you for the CD with the song, “In the Garden.” She and her roommate were so happy when I brought in music for them to hear. They were both singing right along. Their lives are so boring living in a nursing home, I was happy I could bring a little joy into their lives even if it was only temporary. Gabby said her husband always sang that song when he shaved and he never sang the right words. Dominic burned about 6 different versions of that song by different artists like Perry Como, Patti Page and Johnny Cash, singers they would know. There was even one by Elvis. Gabby was so funny when she saw Elvis’ name and she started rocking back and forth in her wheelchair and wondered if Elvis would sing that song rocking. She is a funny lady.

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