My Mom, Theresa Cascio came to the New McLean with a lot of history, hopes and fears. She had told me often that she didn’t like to be around “old people” and she certainly did not consider herself to be an old person even if she did have white hair. She had always been a very independent woman and her stroke left her fighting against the limitations of her own body.
With Mom determined not to make the best of an unavoidable situation, my phone began ringing from day one. Mom had always been anti-social and she refused to participate in any of the multitude of programs offered to her as a resident at the New McLean.
In all honesty, Mom was a bit like a Brillo pad at first, roughing up against anyone who came near. My brothers and I had a saying, “Mom doesn’t play well with others.”
Now you have a pretty clear picture in your mind of the woman the staff at the New McLean encountered when each of them met my Mom for the first time in those early weeks. I share this with you because I want you to understand the incredible difference between the beginning and the end.
I spent a lot of time over the next few years with my Mom. She slowly transformed into a woman who was more peaceful and calm. The staff at McLean allowed her the level of independence she was capable of. They took the time to know her as an individual and understand the woman behind the “spunk”, bringing out the best in her and coming to know her as the great Lady she was. As time went by, my Mom did participate in a few activities offered at McLean. She still stayed in her room much of the time but would come out into the day room among the other residents when she felt in the mood.
My Mom died last week. I am her only daughter and it was a really hard time for me as I sat by my Mom in the last hours of her life. The staff was so helpful, gentle and comforting to both of us as we moved closer to the end, meeting both of our needs, offering both of us genuine love and kindness.
I write this letter for two reasons. The first, to publicly thank every CNA, especially Mary, Keith, Nina, Celia, and Clover, Nurses; Diane who deserves a medal, Trisha, Lauren, Doctor Dicks and Barbara Dicks, the Hospice Team and everyone else behind the scenes at The New McLean who cared for my Mom throughout the past few years. I thank you for treating her with patience, value, love and kindness. I thank you for the comfort and love you gave us both at the end. I thank you for being God’s hands on earth.
My second reason for writing this letter is to tell others that before my Mom came to The New McLean, she had been in five other facilities. Some were okay and some were most definitely not okay. None of them gave my Mom the level of care, commitment and genuine love she received at McLean. In my experience, none of them had enough staff, were as clean, offered as many programs, or medical care, nor treated my Mom as an individual who deserved respect.
The New McLean staff has my respect and gratitude for all they have done to walk along side me and my Mom through this time in our lives.
Lisa Cascio Allard