Randy’s position as food service manager at St. Francis required him to work in the hospital’s freezer. That was a perfect explanation for the dizzy spell, he thought. He was cold–but he was a hard-worker. He always had been, ever since he was a child running paper routes and working at the local McDonald’s. A dizzy spell wasn’t going to interrupt his work. The day was almost over anyway.
However, Randy didn’t expect a similar dizzy spell a few weeks later to send him tumbling to the floor while he was at work. That cold winter afternoon shifted from typical to tragic in a matter of minutes. Randy couldn’t escape the climate.
Randy’s boss quickly ordered a few of his coworkers to rush him to the Emergency Room. By the end of the weekend, Randy was having emergency surgery to remove the rapidly-growing, often terminal brand of brain tumor that the doctors had just diagnosed him with: Gliobastoma. That diagnosis paired itself with an estimated three to six months to live.
The choice was fairly simple; he would stay with his parents, Don and Elaine. There, his family would be able to care for him. There, he could be comfortable.
After many difficult nights, the family began to realize that additional help might be necessary.
Randy, too, knew he was requiring a lot of assistance to get by. In one of the many late-night conversations with his sister Linda, he asked her to promise to take care of their parents.
He didn’t realize that promise would need to be paid so soon. Neither did his parents. “We took care of him as long as we could, and we almost made it the whole way, just not all the way,” said Elaine.
Randy checked in to The Gathering together on July 26th, 2014, and his family was immediately comforted by the welcoming environment. The frequent offerings of drinks and dinners both surprised and delighted them.
“It was like we were part of the family,” reminisced Don.
Over his stay at The Gathering Together, there were 12 people packed into his room. There were no visiting restrictions like hospitals often impose–something Randy’s family and friends greatly appreciated.
“It felt like an extension of what we were doing [at home]. The room had a bed for a family member, so I was right beside him,” said Linda. “It was such a supportive environment.”
Randy passed away on July 29th, 2014. He was 52 years old.
Referring to the support given to her parents, Linda remembered, “The Gathering Together made it possible for me to keep my promise to him.” Plus, she added, “All you want [is] for [a loved one] to be as comfortable as possible.”