Remembering My Grandmother

By Jennifer Mitchell-VanHoff

There was a time I didn’t think about when my grandmother, Mary P. Doran, would no longer be with me. She was my best friend. On November 12, 2009, she passed out playing bingo. An X-ray found mesothelioma in her abdomen and the ER doctor immediately referred her to Roswell Park. 

On January 15, 2010, her doctor said it was time to move her to Niagara Hospice House. It was hard to see the weakened version of my grandmother as she had changed so much in the previous 23 days, but I cherished my time with her. I filled her room with her favorite music and pictures.

The nurses allowed her to spend her final days with her two great granddaughters. She was unable to appreciate the serene view from her window of birds, empty trees, snow and sunshine. The pastor visited regularly to pray with us, and I ate dinner with other families who were on a similar journey and told them how blessed I felt. They replied, “A happy family is a happy patient.”

In her final moments, I watched her take her last breath and the nurse put her hand on my shoulder and silently supported us. She then opened the window to let her spirit soar. The staff treated her like royalty and our walk down the hallway at 4 a.m. was peaceful with her covered in a blanket of butterflies.

It ended as it had started, just the two of us, except we had angels on earth guiding us. I couldn’t have survived without the nurses, social worker, clergy, staff and volunteers. I thank God for our Niagara Hospice experience, and every kind gesture I have done since that day has been in their honor.

Since 1988, Niagara Hospice has served more than 25,000 Niagara County residents and their families with the same care, compassion and dignity that my grandmother received. Please consider helping Niagara Hospice to continue providing the same high level of care and support that our family and many others have experienced. Families faced with end-of-life illnesses should never have to do it alone, and the staff is with them at every step.

I hope you can support this excellent organization by giving here.

Your contribution will support the future success of Niagara Hospice services and programs. On behalf of the dedicated staff and volunteers and all the families that have been served, thank you for your interest and support in reaching our spring appeal goal!


Subscribe to receive news and event information!