”We live to die. And where are we going? Home.” - Clay Mosley, from Life’s Way, Reflections of Hospice Northwest Volunteers in Northwestern Ontario
BY KATHLEEN BUSO
IT HAS over four years now since Clay died, but his passion for life and his dedication to giving back to his community live on in so many ways.
Clay was one of Hospice Northwest’s most dedicated advocates and committed volunteers. This year, Hospice Northwest honours his contributions through the creation of an award in his name. The Clay Mosley Memorial Award for Outstanding Hospice Volunteer Service will be presented in December to the hospice volunteer who most exemplifies Clay’s spirit of giving and kindness.
Clay’s story reflects that of many volunteers who have completed the palliative care training course offered by Hospice Northwest over the past 32 years. The majority of our volunteers have spoken of the benefits that result from their experiences, both as a means of giving back to their community and as a way to prepare themselves for loss in their own lives and acceptance of their own mortality.
In 2008, Clay stumbled across an ad in The Chronicle-Journal for the agency’s volunteertraining program. Having retired four years previously, Clay had decided it was time to devote himself to some kind of volunteer work where he could make a difference. In his intake interview, Clay described his need to start doing things differently in his life, to start giving back. As he explained, “We take so much out of the community. That’s the easy part. How do you put it back in a meaningful way?”
After he completed the hospice training course, Clay began his volunteer visiting. In his first year he had nine clients. One of his clients was a young lady who was 31, who he only knew for 11 days.
“Angela touched me profoundly. She was very special and very different in that she liked to have her own way. So we were a match made in heaven for eleven days, because I like to have my own way too. Angela had a female friend, Joy, who was obviously a very important person in her life. One day, while Angela and I approached the elevator to go outside, the door opened and there stood Joy, with a box of Kentucky Fried Chicken and Angela asked me to leave.
So my visit was given over to a bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken, and I was still laughing to myself as I got to my car across the street. That was Angela. That’s just what she needed that day, Kentucky Fried Chicken and being with her good friend Joy.
And then a few days later, she was gone. She taught me a lesson that I kind of learned the hard way in 11 days. What she taught me was that these people need you, probably more than you really think they do.
I feel very passionate about being a volunteer - to be able to say, “Yes, I have compassion for other people.”
Clay held a very deep belief in destiny, and felt it was a guiding force in his life. He believed everything was meant to be, including becoming a hospice volunteer.
“I came to Hospice Northwest, for a reason. They accepted me, for a reason. I got assigned to specific clients, for a reason.” This statement became even more meaningful when Clay himself received his cancer diagnosis. In an interview shortly before his death, Clay answered questions about his own mortality. “Death and dying - where am I at? I’m at a good place. It’s an amazing place to be. I’m on this side of the window and someday soon I’m going to go outside the window. Everything happens for a reason and it’s just my turn now. We live to die. And where are we going? Home.”
Clay believed that being a hospice volunteer takes a special kind of individual, and that those drawn to the role received back as much as they gave to it. “It makes me feel good,” he would say, “and there is nothing bad about feeling good.” In hospice volunteering, Clay had found his purpose. He believed death was a part of living - “it’s what we’re here for,” he said.
If you would like to find out more about becoming a hospice volunteer, please contact Hospice Northwest at 626-5570 or visit our website at www.hospicenorthwest.ca/how-you-can-help/hospice-northwest-volunteer-program/become-a-hospice-volunteer/
The deadline for the fall training program is Sept. 20, 2019.
This monthly column from Hospice Northwest examines various aspects of palliative support and bereavement services. It appears on the Healthstyle page of The Chronicle-Journal on the first Tuesday of each month. Call Hospice Northwest at 626-5570 for more information.