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Nora’s Story (Pat)


This story was written by Pat Dingle:

Home — a word we all know and use, but one that holds a different meaning to each of us. It  often brings a sense of comfort or a place of warmth.

For Nora and I, home was where the two of us were together.

We spent our years travelling between Nova Scotia, Boston, and Yucatan, Mexico. Home was all of these places — as long as we had each other.

So, when Nora was diagnosed with dementia, and her illness progressed, home became the QEII, the Victoria General, and finally, Hospice Halifax.

Nora was a force of nature…

… She was loving, wonderful, and caring. She always put others first — looking out for women and children.

… She was a linguist and a scholar who travelled to Colombia and Australia to work.

… She was a mother, she always knew she wanted a child. So, when the opportunity came up to adopt Melanie, Nora knew it would forever be the two of them.

Nora was always engaged with the world around her and curious about what would come next. And our next adventure, our time at Hospice Halifax, was a miraculous one.

It was a gift that I really did not expect.

Hospice Halifax was an oasis for me — really for both of us. As chance would have it, we were put in a room that had the best view I could have asked for: the view of where we were legally married.

Being able to look out on this space where we spent so much time together was an enormous comfort for me. This was home for the last two months of Nora’s life. But what is life like at Hospice Halifax? For me, it was sharing time with Nora, friends, and other family members.

Occasionally, Nora would choose to speak Spanish, which again, Hospice made space for as many staff members who happened to also speak the language.

Hospice Halifax was always making space for Nora, or me, to live.

Nora loved to sing, but was never granted much vocal talent. So, I often sang to her, as did “Nora’s Choir” — a group our friends and family had formed to join us weekly at Hospice Halifax. Accompanied by the music therapist, Kristi, we regularly sat together and enjoyed music.

This was how life was for Nora — surrounded but her friends and family enjoying time together. It was amazing to witness Hospice Halifax create this space to truly live amidst Nora’s last months.

About a week before her death, Nora turned and said to me, “thank you for everything.’

This is one moment I will never forget.

Saying goodbye has been hard.

I know that without Hospice Halifax creating space for our long goodbye and supporting and caring for Nora, myself, her daughter, and our friends and family, we would be much more lost as we now mourn her death and celebrate her life.

So, even though Nora and I were intensely private people, I feel I owe immeasurable thanks to all the people of Hospice Halifax — the community of staff, volunteers, and donors like you who guaranteed Hospice Halifax was home for Nora, Melanie, I, and her family.

Thank you.

It was a gift to be at Hospice Halifax and we felt this from the first day. Here, the whole process of life and death is humanized. The support is always there, the space to live, experience, and explore is there. It was home.

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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