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What does 31 days mean to you?


To me, it’s the number of days I spent at Hospice Halifax with my husband, Norm.

31 days of being just his wife, not his caregiver.

31 days of feeling like family.

31 days of truly living until Norm died.

Norm was diagnosed with colorectal cancer on New Year’s Eve of 2020. He was a hard worker. He was a loving husband, father, and grandfather. And after 2 and a half years of living with cancer, we found ourselves getting a call from Hospice Halifax that a bed was available for him.

Day 1 at Hospice Halifax, I remember walking up to the front door unsure what to expect – only to be greeted by name by two people I’d never met before.

It took less than 2 hours for us to know we made the right decision.
Norm and I felt at home.

Norm was at peace. I remember him turning to me this first day saying, “You don’t need to do this anymore, you don’t need to be my caregiver.” He was happy about that. By Day 10 at Hospice Halifax, I had made a donation. I was never asked, and I didn’t know what to give, but I know it all helps.

Our care only continued to impress us as the days went by. We had friends and family visiting – people we hadn’t seen in years stopped in. But most importantly, our grandkids felt comfortable visiting Papa at Hospice Halifax.

Day 24 was Father’s Day.

It was the first Father’s Day in 15 years that we spent just the four of us – me, Norm, and our 2 boys – no grandkids, no friends. Just us 4.

We spent the afternoon upstairs in the Great Room of Hospice Halifax – Norm’s favourite spot – eating take out MicMac Tavern and playing board games.

We must have spent 3 or 4 hours in that space, laughing and enjoying each other’s company. It was really nice.

And then on Day 26, Norm had a medical scare that if we’d been at home, would have taken him to the hospital. But the nurses at Hospice Halifax handled it right in his room. He was able to stay in the comfort of what we’d come to call home for these 31 days.

We couldn’t have asked for a better place to be for these 31 days. You’re a donor to Hospice Halifax, so you likely already know this – it’s truly a space that makes end-of-life the best it can be. Thank you for making our 31 days possible.

It’s an honour to share our story as we near the one year anniversary of Norm’s time at Hospice Halifax. Thank you for reading, and thank you for considering a donation. I know first hand that every gift made will have a tremendous impact on someone’s end-of-life.

From the bottom of my heart, thank you,

Marilyn Penney

Hospice Halifax is a compassionate and supportive community of staff, volunteers, and donors dedicated to making dying and living as comfortable and as meaningful as possible at the end of life.  

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