Arlene Sandra Fisher at 78 had been in and out of the hospital for 18 years. During her last hospital stay the doctor called in her son, Michael Murphy, and his wife Nancy Murphy, because Arlene’s COPD and emphysema had left her 0% lung function. The doctor recommended transferring Arlene to The Samaritan Center at Voorhees, a home-like, peaceful environment for patients who need relief from their severe symptoms at the end of life.
Arlene’s room overflowed with familial love. It was palpable. Michael sat with her every day, watched her favorite sports team with her, and enjoyed precious moments together. Arlene was also visited by her grand-daughters Shannon and Megan. Shannon studied while her grandmother was asleep and sat with her while she was awake. Megan sang and filled the room with melodious music. Everyone in the family took turns and stopped by and added to the love, even Cody, the family dog and canine grandson.
For nine days, Arlene’s family surrounded her and embraced the joyful moments they had during those final days together. They were able to make new memories because of the privacy, warmth, and care provided at The Samaritan Center at Voorhees. During the stay, her family bore witness to how Arlene was cared for and it made an impression on them.
“Addressing Arlene by her name,” said Nancy, “talking to her, and treating her with dignity.” These observations are the foundation of love, respect, and dignity from which Samaritan cares from. “The nurses at Samaritan are angels on earth,” said Nancy with emotion.
Arlene passed away peacefully with Mike, Nancy, and the family at her side. Mike honored his mother’s wishes to not be alone. He laid a hand on her heart and held her. The nurses gave Mike and his family clay hearts to remember Arlene. The clay heart, the last thing Arlene touched, is prominently placed in their home where the family sees it daily.
Honoring Arlene’s Jewish faith, they asked that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to Samaritan in Arlene’s name. The Murphy’s also decided to give back to Samaritan as a thank you to the care team who helped Arlene and their family ease through the end of life.
The Murphy family, who is Catholic, gathered together after Arlene’s passing at their Sunday Mass and honored Arlene by lighting a candle for her. Then they broke bread together by getting food from a local Jewish deli. As they shared their meal, they reveled in stories about Arlene; mother, sister, grand-mother, remembered all that she was, and celebrated the fullness of a life well lived.