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Hannabelle's Wonderful Life
From her home of fifty-five years in Queens, New York, Hannabelle Waith reflects on what has made her life so wonderful. “My husband and my brothers and my sisters and my nieces and nephews. I’ve always had them around me.” Despite having had no children of her own, Hannabelle is the matriarch of a big family, all of whom were more than happy to be at her bedside trading stories of the lifetime she’s spent helping them and others.
Several months ago, Hannabelle was told she would need to undergo surgery to fix her failing heart. “I’m 92- years old and I don’t want them to operate on me because I don’t know if it’s going to make me better or worse,” she says. “So I told them no, that I did not want to be operated on. When God gets ready for me, that’s it.”
After talks with her doctors, it was clear that further curative care for her condition was not going to extend Hannabelle’s life, and that continuing those treatments could involve discomfort and hospitalization. This was not how she wanted to experience the final chapter of a life well-lived.
“Aunt Belle,” as she’s known in the neighborhood, spent years babysitting many kids growing up there and also helped raise her nieces and nephew, who now have grown children of their own. She traveled the world with her late husband and did mission work for her church. She’s also a proud lifetime member of the NAACP. Pictures taken throughout this wonderful life grace the walls of the living room, where Hannabelle can see them all from her bed.
With the help of her team from VNSNY Hospice and Palliative Care, Hannabelle is able to remain in her home and live the rest of her days comfortably. Her team includes a nurse, social worker, home health aide, and a volunteer.
As her nurse Luis Leighton puts it, “When hospice is here, a family can step out of the caregiver role and take time to just be a family again, honoring the richness of life that has brought them all together for this brief time on earth.”
With faith being the cornerstone for her life, Hannabelle remains active with her church and community despite being unable to get out much. Fellow church members come to her home to visit and pray, and Hannabelle enjoys reminiscing with them about Christmases past. This holiday season, her circle of loved ones includes a ‘hospice family’ as well.
“They have made life so much easier for us,” says her great niece and one of her family caregivers Hannah Morgan-Childs of the VNSNY team. And Hannabelle herself sums it up this way: “They are so helpful and enlightening and always right here for me. I tell you… I just can’t describe how I feel, how they make me feel. It’s just so wonderful, wonderful, wonderful.”
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