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Mourners find closure at memorial service

April 27, 1999

Memorial ServiceBy KIMBERLY YAKOWSKI / Staff Writer

photo: RIC DUGAN / staff photographer




Cassie Wagaman's eyes fill with tears when she thinks of the last year of her mother's life.

Diagnosed with the physically degenerative Lou Gehrig's disease in March 1998, Cossette Markell was no longer able to care for herself and was unwilling to live in a nursing home, said Wagaman.

"My mother wanted to be home with her cats and all her comforts," she said.

Wagaman turned to the Hospice of Washington County to provide nursing care for her mother.

"The support was really there. They were there every time we called," she said.

Her mother died in March of this year.

On Monday, Wagaman gathered with her family and about 150 other Washington County residents for a Hospice memorial service at Haven Lutheran Church in Hagerstown.

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They lighted candles, hugged, cried and remembered their loved ones.

Washington County residents represented by the candles were served by the Hospice over the past year, said Faye Altizer, bereavement program manager.

Hospice is a national organization that formed locally 16 years ago. Through Hospice, nurses provide health care and volunteers help terminal patients try to come to grips with their illnesses and get their financial affairs in order, she said. They also assist family members, she said.

The Hospice has been holding the memorial for more than 10 years, said Altizer.

The memorial service was important to Wagaman because "it provided closure," she said.

She said she is grateful for the care her mother received from Hospice nurses and volunteers.

Her mother's disease robbed her of her physical mobility but left her mind intact, said Wagaman.

"She started out with a cane, then a walker, wheel chair and eventually became bedridden. And as the disease progressed so did the Hospice care," she said.

"We wouldn't have been able to cope without them. They walked with us and cried with us," she said.

Hospice services also were a big help to Doris Rubeck and her six brothers and sisters when their parents became ill.

Their father, Russell Hutzell, died in 1997 at age 87 after a year of Hospice care. Their mother died this past year from colon cancer. She received a few weeks of Hospice services, said Rubeck.

The Hospice staff provided the family with medical advice about their parents' conditions.

She said her family felt comforted by the support the Hospice caregivers provided.

Rubeck said they attended the memorial service to remember their parents and show appreciation to the Hospice.

"They were there for us any time, any hour," she said.

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