HAMMOND — Seventy-four former patients were remembered at the annual North Oaks Hospice Memorial Service on Aug. 24 in the E. Brent Dufreche Conference Center on the North Oaks Medical Center campus.
The memorial service is a component of the North Oaks Hospice Bereavement Program, which provides support to family members and caregivers for one year following a patient’s passing. It is a time for families to come together through music, prayer, Scripture, words of encouragement, remembrance and fellowship. Highlights of the service included the reading of the names of those lost, presentation of memorial gifts to their families and a butterfly release, according to a news release.
Audrey Bodker, a native and resident of Ponchatoula, was one of the hospice patients remembered. Her daughter Marybeth Marchbanks, of Oxford, Mississippi, and son Edward Bodker, of Ponchatoula, were among the 70 attendees.
“She was the rock of our family,” Bodker said about his mother. “She took care of all of us.”
Bodker and Marchbanks shared their appreciation for the memorial program, describing it as meaningful and helpful in their time of grief.
“The interest and care of North Oaks Hospice does not end at the moment of death,” Marchbanks said. “It carries forward as the emotional loss becomes more prominent.”
Marchbanks’ and Bodker’s mother suffered from multiple myeloma, stage four kidney disease, heart problems and neuropathy. She was in hospice for two days prior to her passing on April 10.
“We left the decision of when to go in to hospice up to Mom,” Marchbanks said. “She was familiar with the program since my father had been a hospice patient two years before.”
Marchbanks expressed gratitude for the care her parents received, noting, “We were blessed to have (hospice nurse) Patrice take care of both of our parents.”
The program’s butterfly release held special meaning for Bodker’s family. Their mother loved nature and gardening. Once she could no longer weed and plant from her wheelchair, she received great joy from watching birds feed, butterflies flit about and squirrels scamper in the patio area she had created just to attract such animals, the release said.
Bodker spent her lifetime in Ponchatoula, where she was a teacher until her retirement at age 65. She had many hobbies, including chair caning, basket making, cooking and sewing, and she enjoyed making things for others. At the program, Marchbanks shared with the staff one of the baskets her mother had made.