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Jackie Clewis

"To me, working at Hospice of East Texas is a ministry, not a job. I like it so much, I’ve done it for thirty years!

A friend told me “you would be perfect for hospice work.” I didn’t even know what hospice was! She said, “You have the character and compassion to do that job.” So I went and applied and they hired me on the spot.

My very first patient was a gentleman in his home being cared for by his wife. He was unresponsive, just lying in the bed. For about five days I went every day to bathe him, and on that fifth day, when I was turning him, he died in my arms. God gave me strength that day, and I said, “I can do this.” I was meant to be there when he passed so that I could be there for his wife. After that day I knew hospice work was what I wanted to do.

This work has become my passion. What I do is so intimate. I try to help patients keep their dignity when I’m bathing them, shaving them, combing their hair. They are so vulnerable, and I can imagine how hard that must be for them, hard for them to have lost control. I don’t personalize whatever obstacle I find. If patients are angry, I know they are just responding to their situation, not to me. I have to put myself in their place and think about how hard it must be.

I have met some of the loveliest people and seen the sweetest things families do for one another. I’ve seen people at their best and also at their worst. When you go into someone’s home you never know what you’re going to find.

Families grow comfortable with us home hospice aides because we are there every day. They are always wanting to give me something, something to eat or something to drink. I say, “Just pray for me”. It’s prayer and passion for this work that have kept me doing it for thirty years."