A Hospice Story

Apple Pie!

Submitted by: Dr. Davina Banner - March 17, 2017

When I think of apple pie, I am immediately transported back to childhood memories with my mom and grandmother. Helping cut up apples and trying to grab a sneaky bit of crust that may have accidently (on purpose) fallen on to the table. There really is nothing like that sweet smell of apple and cinnamon. I challenge anyone to think of something more homely and comforting.

I am a relatively new addition to the nursing team at hospice. I have been a Registered Nurse for 18 years, both in the UK and Canada, and have worked in nursing roles within critical care and as a nursing professor and cardiovascular and health services researcher at the University of Northern British Columbia. Hospice nursing is not too different from my previous critical care experiences in many ways, in that caring for people at the end of life was commonplace, but in other aspects it is very different. The focus on comfort care and supporting people to live well while dying represented a philosophical shift from the critical care approach.

It was during one of my early times at hospice that I really got to appreciate the sense of family that exists in the Prince George Hospice House. It was late in the evening, around 9pm, many guests were sleeping and a few guests and family members had started to gather around the kitchen table. Two of our wonderful care aides were also there. It was truly a joyous sound of friendly chatter and quiet laughing. As I peered in, I saw everyone gathering around the table. A guest was peeling apples and others mixing and whipping up ingredients. Shortly after the smell of apples was surging through the house. As I came through, we laughed, apple pie at 10 o'clock at night, why not??

Yes, why not! The apple pie, as delicious as the treat is, was so symbolic to me in that moment. It reminded me of the sweetness of life and the importance of nourishing our bodies, connections and families. A short while later, it seemed like everything paused for a brief moment at the house. More people came to the kitchen. The staff stopped too briefly, taking in a few bites of this yummy deliciousness. I couldn't help but think if I was dying or facing a life limiting illness, I would eat pie every day if I could. But this moment was more than just the pie; this was about family, about being together, and about enjoying the small pleasures. At hospice, the kitchen is the cornerstone of the house. It is where people come to eat, spend time with their loved ones, laugh together and sometimes cry together. These small pleasures become so precious in the greater scheme of things. When I think of Prince George Hospice House, I think of this evening. It reminds me to live with gratitude, to enjoy the small things and to live with joy, happiness and lots of pie!

I will always choose to support hospice. It is one of those things that you don't realize how important it is until you need it. I am grateful for the guests and family members that I have met; each person has touched my life and has taught me the importance of acceptance, resilience and unconditional love. Finally, I am grateful for apple pie, for life should be filled with comfort, love and togetherness. Go on, have a slice today and stop briefly to savour the sweetness of life.

Dr. Davina Banner is an RN at Prince George Hospice House and an Associate Professor in the School of Nursing at UNBC.