Mike Fritz, bereavement coordinator for Compassus–Central Texas, recalls how a special patient was always first and foremost a caregiver.
As a veteran hospice chaplain, I have seen many patients and caregivers over the years, but one stands out in particular.
This man was a longtime minister, a caregiver in his own way. He loved his faith deeply and shared it often. You would think this would be what I remember the most about him, but it is not.
He was actually the patient that I was to go and minister to and to be the support he needed now. As I think of him, I think of a true caregiver. Each time I went to visit, in fact, any time any of the team went to visit with him, something unique and special happened. As the chaplain it was my job to bring spiritual healing, comfort and encouragement. But not with this patient, for as we would begin to leave after visiting with him, he, the patient, would pray for us.
I told him that it was my job to pray for him. He would reply, “No, you go out traveling and visit with others. You need the prayer; I don’t need them now, but I will soon.”
Each visit would be the same, with him insisting on praying for us. This continued until one day he was in bed and not getting up. As I finished my visit he said, “Now I’m making my journey so you can pray for me.”
His journey on earth ended and his spiritual life began.
What a deep lesson to all caregivers and for me as a chaplain, he taught — that everyone needs to have a person who cares for them and prays for them. What a true caregiver the patient was to those who were there to care for him.