The Room Decorated with Love

The Room Decorated with Love

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Reader's Choice 20th Anniversary Edition

The Room Decorated with Love

In time of test, family is best.

~Burmese Proverb

Jeannie Lancaster’s story called “Entering the Thankful Zone” in Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Power of Positive took me back nearly five years to when my eighty-nine-year-old father entered the hospital for the last time.

“Your father won’t last another two weeks,” the doctor said, the sympathy in his eyes at odds with the stark words.

My sister Carla and I clung to each other. “What can we do for him?” I asked.

“We can’t do anything more for him here,” the doctor said. “I suggest placing him in a care facility where he will be well looked after.”

We reviewed the local care centers and chose one. Within a day, we knew we’d made a mistake. The staff, though professional, was overworked and didn’t have the time to give our father the attention he needed.

“This isn’t working,” I whispered.

Carla nodded. “Let’s take Dad home.”

With the help of hospice, we brought Dad home the following day.

Several grandchildren and great-grandchildren lived close by and visited him when he felt up to it. The great-grandchildren drew pictures and made cards. What these crayon and watercolor drawings lacked in artistic talent, they made up for with enthusiastic color and unbridled imagination.

Just as Jeannie Lancaster decorated her husband’s hospital room with index cards of gratitude, we tacked these cards and pictures to the walls, set them on tables, surrounding Dad with love.

I encouraged family members who lived in other states to send cards as well. More handmade cards and pictures went up until Dad’s room resembled a Hallmark store.

Carla and I took turns staying with our father. I read the cards to him and we laughed over the exuberant and improbable drawings of two-headed horses and pink cows. “These are one-of-a-kind originals,” I said to Dad, who rewarded me with a smile.

Dad didn’t last the expected two weeks. Within five days of our bringing him home, he passed away, there in the room we had decorated with love.

Over the years, occasional doubts assailed me over our decision to bring Dad home, taking him away from the care of professional nurses and attendants. Had we done the right thing?

Jeannie Lancaster’s story reassured me that we gave Dad what he needed most: family and love.

~Jane McBride Choate

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