This is my recent and touching story of the past 1 1/2 years of visiting our special hospice patient, Richard.
Mocha and I were assigned and matched with Richard as a “loyal friend” volunteer team with Seasons Hospice and Canines for Christ. We believed we could and would commit and dedicate ourselves in assisting him with the very basics of everyday living and with motivating him to speak. Richard was not able to speak verbally, only with expressions on his face and the light from his eyes when we arrived each week to visit him.
During the weeks that followed, Mocha would lay at Richard’s side on soft towels that I would place on his bed next to him. I did all the talking and kept the conversation going with what had happened and what we had gone through the past week. He seemed to understand and would nod his head.
I felt he knew what I was telling him but he couldn’t express himself. It was as if he was imprisoned within his own body. Often he would try to speak as Mocha was waiting for the him to say her name and call to her. When this didn’t happen, I could feel his helplessness and the frustration as he tried to mumble a few words that wouldn’t come.
As the months progressed, Richard would look at me and then glance at Mocha and would smile and his beautiful blue eyes would light up and I knew we were getting through to him. I would spend much of the hour saying some simple words over and over. I would say, “Mo Cha”, repeating it distinctively and emphatically each time.
When Richard was transferred to the long term nursing care in a memory care unit, Mocha and I continued our weekly visits and each week more progress seemed to be made.
It was on a special day of celebrating his birthday, when we experienced a breakthrough. It was a miracle! Praise God!! Richard was seated at a table in the gathering room while I held Mocha in my lap. He and Mocha were at eye level when he looked at me, then looked at her and emphatically spoke her name, MO CHA!! Mocha looked over at me and then back to him when she heard Richard speak. During the following months, he was able to pronounce “wow, thank you, good dog”, and when I commented on how nice looking his slippers were, he answered, “yes they are”.
This is our inspirational story that we wanted to share with you and the Canines for Christ volunteers. How each visit with him was filled with love, hope and the simple blessings of life. These beloved dogs reflect what is truly important and in our belief in the power of faith and in bringing comfort and joy to patients and residents.
May God bless you and Merry Christmas.
Carolyn Lemay-Strass, ASLW
She and Mocha live in Crystal Lake, IL and
have been C4C volunteers since October, 2015.
Thank you Carolyn and Mocha for your faithful service to sharing God’s message of love and hope to the people in your community. We are grateful for you both.