Photo Gallery

  • Helen always put her husband Don’s needs first. He was living with moderate dementia, she was his primary care taker in their home. When Helen was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, she immediately put their family home up for sale and moved her and Don into a locked dementia unit so that when she died, Don would be safe. Helen wanted to live with Don in the dementia unit so he could become familiar with the new environment, with her in it. It was also Helen’s hope that by living there together, Don would be less afraid when she died. Helen was sharp as a tack and everyone she lived with had dementia needing 24 hour supervision and care. I know I couldn’t do it, but Helen felt as though it was not only an honor to do so, but her hearfelt choice. She said with certainty that Don would do the same for her if he could. In my mind, Helen was a hero. She lived in that locked unit in beautiful respect for the residents for about 6 months; she adopted a mother hen role for many. She said her strong faith in God pulled her through. Her unwavering commitment to her beloved husband Don left him safe and unafraid when she died.
  • This lovely married couple spent their last few years living together in a locked dementia unit unable to care for themselves anymore, and unable to recognize each other (or so it was thought.) Some days they were wheeled by each other without a glance of recognition and other days he openly confessed his love for her out loud for everyone to witness. Sometimes without words spoken they would gaze into each other’s eyes with sincere whole-hearted devotion. He died first. She followed suit within a year. It is not uncommon for couples to take turns on hospice within months of their spouses passing. Can we die of a broken heart?
  • Great, GREAT Grandpa

  • John loved living. His contagious laughs were audible all the way down the hall and around the corner of his assisted living facility. His vivacious spirit outlived his 95 year old skin. John spent his final days in his recliner entertaining his world with quick wit and song. He would enthusiastically sing “Roll or Bowl a Ball - A Penny a Pitch” at the drop of a hat. He was always tossing butterscotch candies around in his mouth, gleefully telling the same old stories and reading mystery novels at an incredible pace (turned out, he often only read every other page). A delightful man, loved by many, held especially close by his devoted son Jim.
  • Lucille's heart was nearly 100 years old and failing, she could no longer venture out into the garden without great effort. Her daughter Cynthia brought the outside world into her mother's little apartment; plants and flowers filled her room. She died on rose petals.
  • When Hal auditioned for the choir as a baritone, he didn’t think that fateful day in 1962 would change his life forever. He beamed as he said, “When our eyes met for the first time I had to know everything about her; I discovered Martha for 50 beautiful years.” Hal’s tears flowed freely and joyfully when he spoke of his grand love for Martha. Martha was not only a talented soprano, but a gifted poet, who won national awards on a regular basis. Hal kept Martha’s poetry alive by memorizing her favorite pieces. He would recite them to her daily with a passionate fervor each time he visited her at the locked dementia unit. She appeared not to recognize Hal or her beautiful poetry, but there was a familiar twinkle in her steel blue eyes that kept Hal coming back twice a day until the day she died.
  • Alzheimer’s robbed Julia from sweet Orville, her devoted husband of 62 years. Yet, he fed her lunch every day at the nursing home in hopes of a rare but promising glimpse of recognition. Everyday, she would squirm in suspicion of this stranger offering her a spoon full of pureed food. Julia would consistently push his hand away; sometimes she would smack him in the face. His love was stronger than her fist. His unwavering love paid off on the day of this photograph, she allowed him to take her hand. He cried and said, “This is my Christmas.”
  • Love and devotion beyond the last breath.

  • Those who crossed Smitty’s path fell in love with him. He was genuinely happy and had a presence about him that was rare for someone with advanced dementia. On the day of this photograph, Smitty had been anxious, probably because he was too weak to wheel himself around his facility anymore. His devoted family then arrived, surrounded him, and laid their hands on him. This spontaneous photograph tells of the sweet power of simple loving touch.
  • Johanna hid five small diamonds in a jar of cold cream before boarding the ship. She knew if they were discovered she would be executed on the spot. She had to take the risk for what was left of her family. Johanna was a brave and courageous survivor of insurmountable odds back in the 1940s. As a petite young mother with fierce determination, she fled the inhumanity of her country and landed in the safety of the United States to start a new life for her family. For one hundred and two years she had to stay strong. An unfamiliar softness surfaced the weeks prior to her passing. Her son said that she returned to her innocence; sweet simplicity, trusting and open.
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  • These brothers hadn’t been in each other’s company in well over a decade. They came together on this day of their father’s passing. They held hands and lovingly supported each other despite the years of separation. .
  • She was the wheel-chair race champion of the nursing home, hands down.

  • Flo was a remarkable woman. She was wheelchair bound with cerebral palsy since early childhood. She spent the last thirty-three years of her life living in a skilled nursing facility completely dependent on others for all of her physical needs. She said she wouldn’t trade her living situation or her body for anything different. She easily won the hearts of many with her consistent selfless acts of love for others. For instance, she arranged aluminum can drives within her nursing home and gave the profits to the needy. Flo attracted a caliber of people in her life that most long for. Bearing witness to the consistent unwavering unconditional love and genuine dedication from her friends was nearly overwhelming. Flo will forever be known to her community as the “oracle of love.”
  • Medford was thrilled with the idea of being photographed playing his piano, as he hadn’t “performed” in decades. He even took his oxygen tubing off for the event (which he later pretended not to regret). He knew for certain that he made it to ninety four by playing his piano three hours every day for the last eighty years. His baby grand took up most of the living room of his tiny apartment. This is where he was most alive. His dying wish was to ask world renowned opera singer Renee Fleming some very specific questions about her “brilliant techniques.” I took a chance and sent Renee an email with his detailed questions; I included this photo of Medford in my correspondence. One week later Medford collapsed in his apartment. He had to be placed in a nursing home that afternoon as his heart disease rendered him completely dependent on others. When I came home from that long day in hospice care I found Renee’s heartfelt email waiting. She apologized for the delay in responding beause she was in London rehearsing for her next performance. I immediately called the nursing home and had Medford’s niece hold the phone to his ear. I read the tender email to him, I could hear him chuckle and sigh as I read. He got his wish - Medford died six hours later.
  • Leetha literally knit miles of warm scarves and baby blankets for families she would never meet. She founded the “Fairy Godmothers,” a dynamic trio of spry eighty-something gals who knit for the needy. She also volunteered decades of her time to alterations and clothing repairs for the residents of the assisted living facility where she lived. She knit and sewed well into the last week of her life. Leetha’s busy hands finally get to rest.
  • Nancy stroked his hand as he slowly slipped away. Between descreet sobs, she said he was a courageous man with an incredible will to live. I asked her to tell me about his courage. After some seemingly difficult silence, said he was a Bataan Death March Survivor. I couldn’t think of any more questions to ask.
  • It is beyond extraordinary/to gaze into my well of grief/and know/that whatever percolates to the surface/is bound to be perfect./Peeking down into that ominous darkness/I see that it isn’t pretty/it is absolutely gorgeous. From My Well of Grief, Poems and Photography by Mary Landberg
  • Three generations of Walter boys holding the sweet hand of wife, mother and grandmother.

  • Ralph asked Carol to marry him on their first date, nearly sixty years ago. Love at first sight indeed exists. Their regular public displays of affection gave well received permission for many to do the same. What would happen if you openly and frequently expressed your love for the people you care about? What if you never assumed that your loved one’s know how you feel?
  • One of the most gratifying qualities of my job as a hospice worker is to help families move through blocks that can prevent them from expressing what they feel. When love is finally able to flow freely, all that doesn’t matter has the invitation to melt away. Expressing love provides a magnificent opportunity to heal at these times of the unknown.
  • When hospice walks in the door for the first time, our presence is the death sentence verified. It becomes real. Someone in the house is going to die. At first the dying person is the primary focus. We evaluate them head to toe and develop a comprehensive holistic plan of care that will take into account all of their physical, spiritual, emotional and social needs. Once the patient’s immediate needs are accommodated, the focus of care broadens to include the family. We focus on the grieving family as much as the dying patient. The anticipation of death triggers the grieving process; which can bring up the best and worst in people. There is an urgency to resolve old issues, take care of unfinished business, and give or receive forgiveness. I am honored that I am able to help the families get through such urgent matters of the head so that they can focus on what matters most. Love; it’s all that is left in the end.