Our father, Walter, always felt he was the luckiest man alive, passing away just weeks before his 96th birthday. His feelings of luck likely stemmed from an unfortunate jump out of a burning B-17 during WWII. He survived the 500-foot fall with a partially opened parachute. After the 19 bone fractures healed, he jumped back into life completing a university degree, married, began a family, and found a profession and volunteer life that intrigued him throughout his career. He never let his injuries interfere with his life; he never complained of the pain and took nothing to relieve it. The luckiest man alive was our father.
It was pneumonia that necessitated his hospitalization last June and we relied upon the highly skilled team
at our community hospital, EvergreenHealth Monroe Medical Center.
The healthcare team quickly assessed his condition in the Emergency Department and he was admitted immediately. We were told that Walter had begun the natural process of dying. Our physician’s explanations were simple, clear, and thoughtfully rendered. His body was shutting down one organ system at a time, but he was comfortable and without pain. They helped us begin to merge the reality of Dad’s condition with our strong emotional attachments by teaching us how a person dies a peaceful, natural death.
Facing the realization of life’s journey is a difficult one
and when it actually happens, it takes your breath away.
The nurses at EvergreenHealth Monroe were ever present, but never hovering or distracting. The linens were clean and orderly as was the room. They couldn’t have known how important orderliness and discipline were in his life. They kept our father comfortable and without knowing Walter, the nurses embraced him into their care routine and treated him as if he was their family member. Our family was welcomed as part of his personal care team which gave us purpose in those last days.
At all times, Dad’s wellbeing was their highest priority.
By providing such good care and keeping his wellbeing as their focus, they were also caring for us.
Because we had direct access to such comprehensive services provided by EvergreenHealth, Hospice added their expertise to the final days of Dad’s life. The hospice professionals understood our sadness, and helped give us the strength to remain by his side through the entire process. We had time for our goodbyes, to share memories, and offer our gratitude for the example his life was for us. With the information the hospice caregivers provided, each part of our family could participate in different but meaningful ways.
The combination of medical services from EvergreenHealth Monroe, Hospice, and his assisted living facility provided an incredible safety net for our dad. We are grateful for such a caring and compassionate community hospital right here in East Snohomish County to meet his needs ~ from beginning to end.
Today is #GivingTuesday a national celebration of America’s greatest traditions of generosity and community. We urge you to make a gift to support a cause that you can believe in for the communities that you love. Make your generous #GivingTuesday gift by visiting https://www.evergreenhealthfoundation.com/monroegiving-tuesday or call 360-805-6304 today.
With heartfelt gratitude
Robert & Alice
Children of Walter Bergstrom
P.S. Walter passed quietly on a warm July night with classical music playing softly in the background from his cherished old radio. Brilliant crystalline stars were strewn across the dark blue heavens; an alabaster moon washed the landscape below with a soft blush of moonlight. It was a night fitting for the luckiest man alive to take his last flight.