Edna Cox was one of my first patients when I started my work at Hospice of Northeast Georgia Medical Center (NGMC). I assumed my first visit to her home would also be her last, as she had just returned from the hospital and was very ill. That was the first of many times I underestimated Edna Cox!
It wasn’t long before Edna demanded her hospital bed be dismantled so could be back in her own bed taking care of herself. She is a very independent 92 year-old who takes great pride in her ability to care for herself while her primary caregiver works. Edna is legally blind and hard of hearing, but we learned quickly how to communicate with each other during my visits.
Edna shared stories about her husband, Dewey, and her only child, Lillian, both of who passed away many years ago. She told me stories about falling out of a second-story window when she was a toddler (resulting in a severe head injury), not walking until she was in kindergarten, working in town to make extra money and the pain of losing her only child. I learned that this amazing woman had lived a life full of hard work, love and tragedy. Edna and I have spent hours together and she is open and honest with the kindest heart. She never complains and she has told me innumerable times that her most important goal is to always be able to take care of herself. She inspires me week after week.
As Edna’s 90th birthday approached in September 2007, I asked her if she was having a party to celebrate her big day. I was shocked when she told me she had never had a birthday party! With the help of her nurse, hospice aide and other staff members, I organized the birthday party she deserved. Edna was excited that so many people took the time to her celebrate. She was so proud of her cake, gifts and guests. Edna told me, “Hospice of NGMC is like my family.”
We have since celebrated Edna’s 91st and 92nd birthdays, and she is already planning her 93rd. Her amazing and resilient spirit fills me with hope, and I treasure our special relationship.