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Hospice event allows families to grieve

Hospice event allows families to grieve

June 17, 2007|by DON AINES

HAGERSTOWN - Whether he passed from their lives months, years or decades before, the legacy of a father lives on in his family as more than a dozen sons, daughters and spouses could attest Saturday at Hospice of Washington County.

"He was Santa for 24 years at Maugansville Elementary and he was a wonderful dad," said Rae Tritle, whose husband, Keith, was only 50 years old when he died in October.

Tritle and her youngest son, Logan, were among those who attended the Father's Day Remembrance.

"There's no day that goes by I don't look into the sky. We put balloons on his grave every Father's Day," Shelly Alexander of Greencastle, Pa., said of her husband, Buddy, who died three years ago of a heart attack at the age of 39. She brought their sons, C.J., 15, and Dylan, 9.

"We talk about him every day" to keep his memory alive, she said.

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"I always wanted a dog and he said I couldn't have one," Connie Diseati said of her father, Lester Stouffer. Then one day, a terrier with a red ribbon around its neck walked into the house, put there as a surprise by her father.

They came together to share memories of what their fathers meant to them, placing their pictures, poems and tributes on a memory board at the hospice.

"I hope some of the memories bring smiles, as well as tears. That's expected," said Dona Nikirk, a bereavement care specialist and Diseati's sister. Participants also decorated picture frames and "memory rocks" to remember their fathers and fathers-in-law.

"Great Dad, wonderful father-in-law, the best Pappy in the world," Nioga Mills of Downsville wrote of David Mills, who died in March.

"We really miss him and this helps us," Mills said of the event. Betty Mills, David's widow, said the hospice helped the entire family through her husband's last days.

"He was more like a father," Harry Dorsey said of his late father-in-law, Bob Hettenhouser.

Dorsey said his own father died when he was in high school, and Hettenhouser filled that role in his life. Dorsey and his wife, Penny, are awaiting the birth of their first grandchild, and he said, "Pop is my model for the perfect granddad."

"He was a loving father who took care of all 10 of us," Lillian Stouffer, 93, said of her father, Howard Franklin Stickler. Stouffer, the mother of Diseati and Nikirk, still has vivid memories of her father.

"When I was 5, my father used to always hold me on his lap at mealtime," Stouffer said. She also recalled the hurt she felt when a younger sibling came along and took her cherished mealtime seat.

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