We are honored to welcome award-winning writer and Montpelier resident Katherine Paterson as chair of our annual spring fundraiser. Many of you may recognize Katherine from her much-beloved books, including Bridge to Terabithia and The Great Gilly Hopkins. Many may also know Katherine from her 31 years as a resident of Barre and Montpelier.
Katherine first encountered CVHHH in the early 1990s when Ginny Fry, our Bereavement Coordinator at the time, asked Katherine to pen an introduction to a book she was writing. Later on, Katherine’s husband, John, the pastor at First Presbyterian Church in Barre, required rehab support after knee replacement surgery. Then, when John was diagnosed with Multiple System Atrophy, a debilitating neurologic disorder, Katherine’s, and her family’s, relationship with CVHHH deepened. After what became John’s final trip to the hospital, Katherine and John decided to go home with hospice. “The doctors asked John to think about how he wanted to spend the remainder of his life,” said Katherine when we spoke with her in April. “We chose hospice.”
“I want more people to understand that when you ask for help from CVHHH for hospice care, you are not giving up. You are choosing to add a richer, more blessed, end to your life.”
Though John was on hospice for only a short period of time, the experience made a lasting impact. “Hospice taught me that there is nothing to fear in death,” said Katherine. “I can describe the experience of John’s death as marvelous. We had our caregiver with us, and each of my children spent time alone with their father to say goodbye. When John died, I was holding one of his hands, and my daughter, Mary, was holding the other. John died peacefully, quietly.”
When Daniel L. Pudvah, our Director of Development, asked Katherine to serve as honorary campaign chair, she said yes. “Those last days of my husband’s life became a real gift,” she said. “I’m 84. I’ve got many friends who are losing their longtime spouses, and I am one of the few people who could be a part of their spouse’s death. I said yes to Dan because I want more people to understand that when you ask for help from CVHHH for hospice care, you are not giving up. You are choosing to add a richer, more blessed, end to your life.”
We are grateful to Katherine for sharing her story and for supporting our spring campaign. Katherine’s letter to Friends of CVHHH was mailed in May and is available to read online here. You may support our mission by making a secure donation through our website >> www.cvhhh.org/donate.