THE NEW YEAR has come and with it a traditional impulse to resolve to do better than we did last year.
Often, this is a doomed exercise in self-improvement that fails before the week is out.
Few of us decide to devote ourselves to the service of our fellow man. It’s a real hassle with few rewards.
In this day and age where it’s hard to know what to do, there’s one basic truth in this world: We are all going to die.
Maybe I’ll be dead by the time you read this.
Or you could die before the paper is delivered.
There are no survivors in this life.
We are all going to die.
Ben Franklin said it best: “Nothing can be said to be certain except death and taxes.”
To that list of certainties in this mortal life, we might add the Clallam County Volunteer Hospice.
The name hospice goes back to the medieval age as a place of rest and shelter.
Now it refers to the specialized care given to the terminally ill or the terminally old at the end of their lives.
Dame Cicely Saunders started the first modern hospice in London in 1948.
The idea of caring for the dying in their homes by treating their symptoms instead of isolating them in an institution came to America in the 1960s.
Rose Crumb started a volunteer hospice in Port Angeles in 1978.
If you don’t know who Rose Crumb is, you probably aren’t from around here.
Rose died Dec. 19, leaving a hole in the soul of the Olympic Peninsula that will never be filled.
If you don’t know what the volunteer hospice is, you are lucky and blissfully ignorant.
You would have to be a member of a rare family that has not been touched by the extreme stress of the imminent death of a loved one that was made more humane, compassionate and dignified by the Clallam County Volunteer Hospice.
This was and remains a free service that does not take any government money.
Of course, no good deed goes unpunished.
In a country where health care is a for-profit industry where medical bills are a leading cause of bankruptcy, it didn’t seem right that someone would be able to die for free.
Rose was threatened with legal action. Although there was no way you could possibly assemble a jury of her peers to rule against her in a court of law in Clallam County.
Rose had no peers. She was one of a kind.
And it’s like the good book says, “A good name is better than precious ointment.”
And as it turned out, the best legal defense.
Like anyone else, Rose had her hobbies although they were a little different from most folks’.
She and my mom would go to the funerals of people who had no one to pray for them.
I gave Rose and Claire a hard time for this. I suggested they take up golf, bingo or even fishing.
There really are no limits to what some fishing guides will do to book a trip.
Thank God they didn’t listen to me.
Instead of pursuing some meaningless hobby in what we call the golden years, Rose spent her time in the service to mankind at one of the most meaningful and vulnerable periods of our lives — the end.
Still, Rose was a very humble person. She wanted no eulogy.
If she were still alive, she would kill me for writing this. But someone had to say something.
Thanks Rosie, from a grateful community. We will never see the like.
Pat Neal is a Hoh River fishing guide and “wilderness gossip columnist” whose column appears here every Wednesday.
He can be reached at 360-683-9867 or by email via patnealwild [email protected]