Published on November 02, 2012

Genesis Remembrance Tree Ceremony on Nov. 10

Holiday Pops Children’s Chorus to sing in downtown Davenport

The hospice patient had a lifelong passion for knitting. After having a series of strokes, however, she had lost the ability to walk, speak, and use the arm and hand that had created beauty from miles of yarn over the years.

The Genesis Hospice volunteer knew this. When she visited the patient in the nursing home, she knelt down to the woman’s wheelchair, introduced herself and showed her the colorful yarn she had brought.

Together, the two rolled a skein of yarn into a ball.

“Even though the woman could no longer knit, the yarn brought back something very important to her life,” said Lori Bruning, volunteer coordinator for Genesis Hospice. “She couldn’t hold the knitting needle, but she could touch the yarn, see its color and help prepare the yarn for someone else to use. It was important to her and validating to her family.”

The woman died a week later, but the ball of yarn had made an impact: It symbolized a talent for which she will be remembered. “For her children, the yarn brought back many happy memories of their mother sitting in her chair, with sewing or needlework in her hands,” Bruning said.

Celebrating the final stage of life and cherishing its small comforts is an important part of Genesis Hospice, whether patients are cared for in their own home, nursing home, hospital or the Clarissa C. Cook Hospice House.

Tree-lighting

Celebrating memories of loved ones who have passed away also will be the focus of a “Celebration of Life” ceremony at the lighting of the Remembrance Tree in downtown Davenport on Saturday, Nov. 10. The festive tree-lighting will launch the holiday season at 6 p.m. in Bechtel Park, at River Drive and Iowa Street. The Holiday Pops Children’s Chorus will sing music from “A Charlie Brown Christmas” and “Polar Express.”

Donations will be accepted for tree light sponsors, with proceeds supporting Genesis Hospice care.

The tree-lighting has become a community focal point during the holiday season for remembering family and friends who have passed away. For some, it’s a family tradition -- a way to celebrate happy memories amid music and the support of others who gather to remember.

Since 2004, the tree also has shed light on the continuing need for hospice care and has raised thousands of dollars in support of it.

“The holiday season evokes so many memories we have of special, happy times with loved ones. It’s one reason why the Remembrance Tree has grown in significance for many families,” said the Rev. Bruce McNeely, Genesis Hospice Chaplain. “It’s a way to honor our loved ones at a time of year when they are foremost in our thoughts.”

Genesis Hospice staff and volunteers work to recognize the lives and interests of patients in their care, whether it’s helping them celebrate a birthday or an anniversary, offering them cookies just out of the oven, or even helping with travel logistics. For example, handmade and donated Journey Quilts on display at the hospice house depict everything from cats and Christmas to sports and patriotism. Families choose a quilt with special meaning that will accompany their loved one to the funeral home.

In addition, the “We Honor Veterans” program honors veterans in Genesis Hospice with a ceremony thanking them for their military service. “Some of these men and women have never been honored for their service to our country because they weren’t in active combat, and they never thought they were worthy of it,” Bruning said. “It’s another example of how we support our patients and are alert to what brings meaning to them.”

When loved ones die from illness, the Genesis Remembrance Tree can be a way to celebrate how they dealt with this adversity.

“Every patient we care for in hospice becomes a part of our lives,” McNeely concluded. “Each patient has a unique story to tell and teaches us valuable lessons about living and dying with dignity. We’re blessed to work with these heroic individuals who understand the reality of their terminal illness and do everything in their power to make the most of what time they have left.”

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