From Emily, with Love

My name is Dr. Emily Giesel and I am a physician who has been on the board of The Gathering Together for the past four years.  It has truly been a great honor to serve on this board with such smart, kind and generous people.  Our common purpose unites us- people from all different walks of life- for the purpose of providing this special place for those whom God brings in front of us to serve.

I have many stories of patients who were cared for  lovingly by Rita as they faced their last weeks of life. One that especially stands out in my mind was a lady named Amy .  I met Amy as an outpatient in our clinic.  She was only 45 years old (which to me now seems young!) and was divorced with two adult children.  Amy shared with me that first day many things- about her physical pain, her emotional pain from her troubled family, and her spiritual pain.  She was frustrated at  not being  heard- not just by her physicians in the past but by her family and her friends.  She felt as though she was facing her cancer diagnosis essentially alone.

As time went on Amy’s cancer progressed to the point that she required all sorts of interventions that were difficult for her to manage on her own.  She ultimately landed in the hospital one last time. Her wish was to be lovingly cared for at the end. Although she had hoped to be in her own place there was not the support available around the clock.  Amy did not have the funds to supply round the clock caregivers nor to pay room and board in a facility.  Of course I thought of The Gathering Together- and although  Amy was apprehensive and anxious about going somewhere she had never been before, she was lovingly welcomed by Rita and our volunteers.

Her family was able to visit and have meaningful  time with Amy  while she was still alert.  Amy, being an artistic person felt right at home with Rita’s beautiful home and the crafts within.  Toward the end ofAmy’s life, The Gathering Together was serving three patients all at once.  Even though Rita can run circles around me and most everyone else, it really was a challenge for her that time to manage all three together.  When Amy heard that Rita had been running from patient to patient that night she suddenly asked “What can I do to help?”

When I heard this, it made me smile, remembering Amy  in her sweet ways.  But it also made me see that even in the last hours of her life, Amy was able to recognize that precious gift – the kind and hospitable presence that Rita  gives to each guest and Amy  I think wanted to be part of that gift.

Sometimes our patients and families think of The Gathering Together as the “last resort” when there are no funds or no caregivers.  But in truth those who actually do spend their last days there are the ones who I think are blessed the most.  Where else could you spend a quiet and lovely day in a home like place with a sweet and confident caregiver who is also managing to have wonderful family meals around the table for your family?

I have raved about The Gathering Together to my family enough that my college age daughter has jokingly said she has already made my reservation at The Gathering Together.  I could not imagine any place I would rather be when my time comes!

Emily Giesel, MD, TGT  Board Member