Three years ago, Nicki Snodderly, AS, database specialist, Parkview Heart Institute, introduced the Remembrance Tree event to Parkview.
“I was inspired to hold something like this when my mom passed away,” Nicki shared. “She died at 54 from a rare lung disease. She was a decorated RN of 32 years at Adams Memorial Hospital, and a graduate of the Parkview School of Nursing in 1975. She graduated in the top 10 of her class and has trained/worked with many of the nurses at Parkview today.”
Last Thursday, Nicki and team put a Christmas tree on display in the Parkview Heart Institute lobby and invited those who wished to honor a loved one to come and place an ornament on the tree’s branches. Guests enjoyed the sounds of several local choirs, including the Parkview Singers, treats and support from Parkview staff. “Through this event, I hope to bring some peace to families. The holiday season is always the hardest. I wanted to do something that would bring people together, recognize their loved ones and offer a way to celebrate them even though they can’t be here.”
This event is open to anyone who has ever suffered a loss and has dealt with the hurt of not having a loved one around during the holidays. “The tree is to celebrate the life that their loved one lived. When you visit the tree, you never know who you might cross paths with. It may be the person who had the exact words of encouragement you needed. You may form a new relationship with a total stranger who has gone through the battle of loss, just like you did. You might be the person that shed a little light on someone who really needed it at that time. Christmas is a time of giving. If taking a few minutes to visit the tree, and maybe exchange a few words with someone, will give them peace to get through the next day, then you have given the best gift one can give. Mending a broken heart is going above and beyond excellent service at Parkview.”
An ornament for Jane.
On September 8, Trista Adams was admitted to Parkview Hospital Randallia in need of gallbladder surgery. “I kept calling my mom, and calling my mom,” Trista recalled, “but she wouldn’t answer, so, I called Grandma.” Concerned, Trista’s grandmother, Sandy, decided to stop by the house and make sure her daughter was alright, but there was no answer at the door. After getting into the house, Sandy discovered every mother’s greatest fear. “We got to the top of the stairs, and I saw her shoes, and I just knew,” Sandy said.
Trista’s mother, Jane, had passed away.
Sandy immediately called her friend, Carol Brockmyer, a Parkview employee, who connected with her friend at Randallia. “I was sitting in the hospital room, and I had the feeling something was really wrong,” Trista said. “The nurse came in and said, ‘Jenny Hernandez is here to see you,’ and I had no idea who she was.” Jenny, a friend of Carol’s, had come to sit with Trista so she wouldn’t be alone before or after her surgery. “She was so amazing.”
Last week, Trista and Sandy came together to place Jane’s name on an ornament and remember her legacy, along with the life of another family member lost around the same time. “I didn’t even want to do the holidays this year,” Sandy said. “I just wanted to crawl in a hole. But being here, I see we’re not the only ones. There are lots of ornaments on that tree.”
“Maybe this is what I’ll do with my kids,” Trista added, “as something special for Grandma.”
Local heroes make a difference.
Along with the tree, Nicki arranged for players from the Fort Wayne Komets to stop by that day and honor a loved one, if they desired, and visit the children in the Pediatric unit.
“I received a call from the Komets’ coordinator, Aubrey, who informed me that the guys that attended the tree event to deliver toys and sign ornaments were very uncertain of what I had requested,” Nicki shared. “Being around a bunch of grieving people and sick children is not really the type of thing these tough guys do. Well, after the event was over, a few of the players went home and, feeling moved by the impact their visit had, asked Aubrey to contact me.
They had so much fun with the kids, and felt like they were really making a difference in a life. The actual words from one of the players was, ‘When I could see the smile on a kid’s face, and how that brought a smile to Mom or Dad just to see their child have a moment of relief and happiness, it was worth every minute I spent there.’
They then requested a visit to the Parkview Pediatric Unit once a month on a scheduled date to read books, play cards, watch a movie or simply just hang out with a child who needs a friend, because this event gave them a sense of fulfillment that they had never gotten through any other appearance. This made me so happy; that this event doesn’t just reach those who have lost, but it has reached those who want to give back.”