In Lieu of Flowers

It’s difficult to escape the irony of cut flowers serving as a symbol of life. Still, when a loved one passes away, the natural beauty of flowers often plays a role in helping those who survive to cope with their loss. But some families call for more enduring gifts to honor the memory of their departed loved one.

Recently, Gerard Morneau of Springfield died. Mr. Morneau, a member of America’s Greatest Generation, was an Army veteran of World War II who served in Normandy and received two Purple Hearts. “Dad didn’t talk much about the war,” said his daughter Lily Buettner of Somers, CT, “but he approached life as a soldier, with a plan and with purpose. His hospice nurse said to me that soldiers are the last to go down. She was right, he didn’t want to let go, but ultimately it helped him to know that I’d take care of my mom and my sister when he was gone.”

After her father died, Buettner and her family thought about ways to honor his memory. “Dad was so pleased that CHD came into our lives and helped with my sister Jeannette,” said Buettner. “Going to Adult Day Health gave Jeannette a purpose to get up in the morning. It made her days enjoyable and gave her room to grow. It also gave my parents the space to stay in their own home. That changed their retirement. My dad was so happy Jeannette had CHD in her life.”

Jeannette has been a participant in CHD Hawthorn Elder Care since 2007. The program provides adult day health services designed to meet the physical, functional and social needs of elders and people with disabilities. A comprehensive clinical team works with each participant and family to create a plan of care and activities designed to deliver optimal benefits. Services include medical management, therapeutic programs, nutritional support, daily activities, mental stimulation and opportunities for social interaction. Each day at Hawthorn Elder Care is carefully planned to promote health and happiness through enjoyable, life-enhancing experiences.

“We have enjoyed working with Jeannette and her family for many years and they have been wonderful to us,” said Audrey Monroe, Director of Elder Services for CHD Hawthorn Elder Care. “We were all sad to hear her father passed, and it was a surprise when we learned that her family wanted memorial contributions to support CHD and the program that has given Jeannette and her family so much. We only learned when we read about it in the newspaper. We were touched, to say the least.”  

Monroe describes Jeannette as a social butterfly at Adult Day Health. “She loves to go out on trips to places like stores, restaurants and museums,” Monroe explained. “She especially loves the musical entertainment that comes to our program, like Rays of Elvis, and she loves to dance and sing. BINGO is one of her favorite activities and with staff oversight she helps other people during BINGO games. I think Jeannette is a good person who has a big heart.”

Continuing to take part in Adult Day Health appears to help Jeannette with her family’s loss. “Being here during the day with people she knows and cares about, and who care about her, helps her work through her feelings,” said Monroe. “I also think an important part of her doing well is the faith that her family has instilled in her, which is clearly apparent.”

Monroe fondly recalls getting to know Mr. Morneau over the years. “When we’d pick up and drop off Jeannette, he was always doing things around the house. He was a proper gentleman, community-oriented and always very kind. His family carried on his kindness by asking that memorial contributions in his name be made to CHD. We are sincerely grateful.”

“There’s been a lot of positive response to our request,” said Buettner. “People tell me it just makes so much sense and I hope we’ve put a bug in people’s ear. We know what CHD has meant to Jeannette and the rest of my family. It makes us feel good to support their work by honoring Dad’s memory.” 

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