“I Wish I Had Called You Sooner.”

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By Beverly Crowl

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Delaware Hospice’s compassionate staff and volunteers have provided comfort and lightened the burdens on families dealing with a serious illness for 35 years. And for 35 years, we have been hearing the same words: “If I had only known, I would have called you sooner.” Even as professional nurses, Joy and Robin Schecker wished they had called Delaware Hospice sooner.

A blind date brought Joy and Jerry Schecker together 55 years ago. Jerry was an electrician foreman and Joy served as a maternity nurse in upstate New York. There they raised three daughters, Robin, and twins, Kim and Kelley.

When Jerry was diagnosed with laryngeal cancer, Jerry and Joy decided to pursue Jerry’s dream of moving to the beach and buying a boat. Rehoboth Beach became their home for the next 20 years.

Ultimately, symptoms of Jerry’s disease began to worsen. Joy said, “As a retired nurse I knew I could care for him. I promised Jerry that he would remain at home and I kept my promise for two years with the help of private nurses.”

Also a nurse, Robin Schecker understood what her father was going through as his symptoms worsened. Navigating the time difference from California, she called her parents regularly to check in. On one of the calls home, Robin heard her father say, “I’m done fighting. I need you to help Mom.” At that moment she knew what she had to do. She packed up and moved to Delaware. She said, “The time I spent with them was amazing for our family.”

However, as time passed, both Robin and her mother began to realize that even two skilled nurses needed more help.

Joy was familiar with hospice care, but hadn’t considered calling them until a friend at Church suggested she contact Delaware Hospice just to see if they could help. She said, “As soon as the Admission Nurse walked in our home, the weight of the world was taken off me.”

Robin agreed. “Delaware Hospice became my life line, my sanity.  Everyone who came in was spectacular. Not only did they take care of him, they took care of me and my mother. ‘Are you taking care of yourself? You can’t help him if you are not okay,’ they would tell me. I really appreciated that and it allowed me to focus on my family. I could spend that precious time as a daughter instead of a nurse.”

Joy remembered, “Jerry fell in love with his Delaware Hospice nurse, Kelly, and his C.N.A., Ronnie. Before Ronnie would leave after each visit, she would get Jerry up and they would dance around the room. He loved those moments and always waited for his ‘dance partner’ each day. Every Delaware Hospice representative who walked in our home was wonderful and so caring.”

One night, Jerry was having trouble breathing, and Joy called the nurse. The nurse arrived and Joy later found out that the nurse had left her own father’s dying side to come to Jerry. “I could not have imagined the internal struggle she must have gone through. But I was so grateful for her compassion and help at that time.”

At Jerry’s Memorial Service, Kelly and Ronnie sat in the front row. Joy said, “The love that both ladies and all Delaware Hospice staff and volunteers showed Jerry and my family was amazing. I only wish I knew what they offered earlier.”

Since its founding in 1982, Delaware Hospice has touched the lives of folks like the Scheckers through our programs and services: Delaware Transitions, Delaware Palliative, Katybug Pediatric Program, Delaware Hospice, Delaware Hospice Center, Bereavement, and New Hope. As a trusted community partner in end-of-life education and support, Delaware Hospice strives to provide quality healthcare services to our community. To learn more call 800-838-9800 or visit our website                www.delawarehospice.org.

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