A Hospice Family's Story - Page Grubb

In memory of Page Grubb, with thanksgiving to Clarissa Cook Hospice House:

My brother, Page, was just 18 months younger than I. We therefore did almost everything together as boys—sang duets in the choir, were in the same Cub Scout troop our mother ran, went to the same boarding school, the same college. He was often on another continent in the next decade, but we saw each other regularly—in Koblenz, Amsterdam where he had a wonderful house on a canal, Rome, Davos with a trip around the Italian lakes, in San Francisco where we live and in Napa, in Monterrey where he attended the Army Language School, in New York before he came back to the Quad Cities for the last time.

Page was diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer in October 2007, so we knew that it was just a question of time before he would die. My wife and I visited the Quad Cities in January, and it was clear that he was in great pain—his meds weren't well regulated, he couldn't get the level of care he needed. The best thing we did during that trip was to talk with Peg Weston at Clarissa C. Cook Hospice House, who at virtually a moment's notice told us about the options for visiting nurse care and hospice care, allowed us to see the variety of obligations and responsibilities we had, and prepared the way in some sense for Page moving into Clarissa Cook. That didn't happen for about a week, a hellish week while the doctor tried to see if Page could regain his strength—which he could not. But when he finally moved into the hospice house, he was able to have his pain reduced, and with that a variety of anxieties. The nurses and aides were uniformly attentive and jolly, and given the inevitability of death—that is, unavoidably, why anyone goes into hospice—their high spirits were nothing short of amazing.

The weekend before Page died, I flew again to the Quad Cities. We had a remarkable visit: We went out to lunch with my parents, drove the next day on his favorite back roads to his beloved house in Calamus, stopped by to see the Wapsi River one last time where he had loved canoeing, had tea before the fire with my parents. He seemed quite strong. When we got back to the Clarissa C. Cook Hospice House after about 8 hours, a remarkably long time considering his condition, he was so evidently happy to return to that place of great quiet and caring.

Page fooled us: He wasn't really robust, and he died within the week. But I'm sure the reason he lived as long as he did—he was in Clarissa Cook for 9 weeks altogether—was the care, the serene surroundings, the sense of being released from all earthly care.

—Norton Grubb

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