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  • Writer's pictureDianne Hammontree






My dog Jesse and I were excited to begin her direct-patient care service as a brand-new Hospice volunteer. To prepare for her first patient, I gave Jesse a bath with cherry vanilla shampoo, gave her a good brushing and placed her identification necklace and red bandana around her neck. We proudly walked to the nursing home and located the correct room. When I saw the gentleman’s name on the door, my heart stopped beating.


Don, the meanest man in the world, was Jesse’s first Hospice patient.


About two months earlier, Don came to look at one of my remodeled houses with his daughter. His daughter loved the house and wanted to sign the paperwork to purchase it. Don began verbally ripping my house apart, inch by inch, electrical, plumbing, paint, carpentry, etc., etc., etc. He not only insulted my hard work but attacked my character as well.


I was too dumbfounded by his evil and abusive words to reply or to stand up for myself. By the time Don and his daughter left my spirit was crushed to the floor. Regardless of his disgusting attitude, Jesse and I met our weekly obligations with Don for months.


Usually, Hospice is responsible for a patient deemed terminal for a six-month period then staff and volunteers are called off. After six months, Don was still alive and stable. We continued our weekly visits anyway.


One afternoon, I received an emergency phone call from Don’s nursing home. “Please bring Jesse—quick!” the nurse said. “Your patient is hysterical and violent. We have tried everything to calm him down, but nothing is working. BRING JESSE NOW!”


Jesse and I entered the room to find Don totally out of control. His sweet little wife couldn’t calm him down without getting hurt. Even though he was older and weak, he could send even a large person flying across the room with his thrashing arms and legs.


Jesse slowly walked over to Don’s bed and waited. His wild eyes spotted her, and he waited. She laid her head on his bed. Ever so slowly he came back to reality without hurting Jesse. As he petted her soft fur, he talked and talked.


He had just realized that he was going to die and did not know where he was going, heaven or hell. Don had spent years ignoring God, feeling lonely to the core, feeling unsafe and unprotected. Life was such a frighting place because he thought we were all just thrown out there with no purpose, no plan, no direction, and no help.


Little by little, with great trepidation and embarrassment, he began to entertain the possibility of God’s existence. He was amazed to find out that even after all this time of pushing God away, God had never left him. All he had to do was open his eyes and ears and heart.


Don died shortly after this amazing journey, and Jesse and I felt privileged to have had the pleasure of knowing the ‘meanest man’ as our friend.



Dianne Hammontree, secretary of Homeward Bound, Inc.


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