“Just one more day Lord, just one more day”

Submitted by Andre’ Hall, Community Educator, Pensacola Branch

I sat watching my mother, counting her breaths, praying for one more day.

That was in February 2002. She had been ill with cancer and the doctors could not do anymore.

My mother was a proud African-American woman. In her earlier days she actually worked as a nurse’s aide in the very hospital where she was now spending her last days. The cancer had taken over and she lay unconscious. She had adopted me when I was six and she was in her senior years.  She had supported me through college. Now I felt powerless to bring her comfort.

Like most African-American families, we had never talked about hospice, about end of life issues. We talked about being with the Lord, about being with him after we died. We talked about praise and worship and studying God’s word. My mother was a very faithful woman and believed in attending church regularly. In fact, when I was younger, going to church was never a question but an expectation.  But we never talked about what she wanted in the last days of her life. My mother did not discuss much about issues regarding final planning. I only knew that she had burial insurance and a plot. She seemed to believe we would just know what to do, that we would work it out.

Later that same year, my father and grandmother also died. Once again, hospice and end of life issues had not been discussed. They are all buried next to each other, with my father in the middle.

Why didn’t we talk about end of life issues? Why did we wait until it was too late? Why did we believe and know that dying was the path to being with the Lord but never talk about what we wanted in our last days?

My experience with my parents is one of the reasons I serve on the Diversity Engagement Committee at Covenant Hospice. One of the goals of the committee is to make certain that diverse groups have equal access to hospice care.  Those groups could include African-Americans, Veterans, Filipinos or any other group with unique barriers to getting the end-of-life care they deserve. The committee is composed of staff and volunteers who are diverse themselves, so they understand the unique challenges certain groups face.

I sometimes wonder how different losing my parents would have been if someone had reached out to me from a hospice program. If someone had taken the time to understand my unique challenges and barriers to hospice care in the African-American community.  How different it would be if I had talked with my parents about end of life issues and knew what they wanted.

By serving on the Diversity Engagement Committee, I can now help make certain other people don’t have those same questions. If you are  interested in learning more or serving on the committee, please contact the Volunteer Manager at your nearest branch.


One Response to ““Just one more day Lord, just one more day””

  1. What a beautiful life story Andre, thank you so much for sharing!!!

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