Tara Weaver recalls rubbing her hands through fresh spring grass and smudging the dew over her freckles as a tradition with her grandma, Millie. Millie loved the month of May, especially watching her irises bloom, and always brought Tara outside on the first of the month to admire the season’s warmth.
Tara feels this same warmth when she thinks of the many other fond memories she shared growing up next door to her grandparents, Millie and Paul. She describes them as “amazing people” who had hearts full of love.
Millie and Paul shared 63 years of love for traveling, camping, their family and, notably, each other. During this time, Millie was a line worker with Sterling Drug and Paul was a military police veteran and truck driver.
As a truck driver, Paul spent a lot of time on the road, but Millie made sure he was always welcomed home from his trips with a hot meal, even at 2 a.m. That’s the kind of love, Tara said, they shared.
“They were very devoted to each other,” Tara said.
When Millie and Paul did spend time together, they couldn’t get enough of it.
“They went out to dinner and for a drive together on Sundays, sat on the couch together and watched ‘Deal or No Deal,’ traveled all over and would spend summer camping in Mount Gretna,” Tara said. “They absolutely loved each other and their time together.”
Millie and Paul led very fulfilling lives outside of their relationship, as well. Millie loved to throw parties at their home for every occasion and was actively involved with multiple organizations including Order of the Eastern Star, Red Hat Society, White Shrine and Flower Club.
Paul was a Mason and had a group of friends he would get coffee with almost every night.
They were also dedicated to their grandchildren, and Tara said her grandparents were her “entire world.”
“My grandpa would bring presents like T-shirts and candy home from his road trips for the grandkids,” Tara said.
When Paul became sick with pancreatic cancer, it was a shock to the family.
“We knew he was sick, but we didn’t know it’d be that bad,” Tara said.
Tara knew she needed to return the dedication and love he showed her. At the same time, Millie developed dementia.
“I knew right away I had to step up and help them. My grandparents took such good care of their grandkids, and it was my turn to take care of them,” Tara said.
Tara, who is trained as a certified nursing assistant, knew how to complete basic care tasks for her grandparents, but couldn’t do it alone.
“It was very emotional. There were nights I did not sleep, and I would cry,” Tara said. “I had three small children and a husband who worked all the time. I was the stay at home mom, so a lot fell on me.”
She decided to reach out to Masonic Village Hospice for additional support.
“We wanted to go through Masonic Village because it was their wish,” Tara said.
Thanks to the “continuous support” of Hospice and the rest of Tara’s family, Paul was able to live in his home until his passing. Hospice checked in daily to see if Tara’s family needed anything and was there for Tara when she was struggling with her mental health.
“It was the hardest when he couldn’t communicate with us anymore,” Tara said. “I miss his laugh. It was contagious, and it was so hearty and made you laugh.”
Hospice also made sure to go above and beyond to comfort Paul in every aspect. They weren’t just caretakers to Paul; they were friends.
“They knew my grandpa loved coffee and country music,” Tara said. “They were so patient, loving and kind. It was just a great and supportive relationship on both ends.”
Paul received hospice care for a month and a half before his passing. Eleven months later, Millie received hospice care. Tara knew, for her, there was no other choice than Masonic Village Hospice.
Millie was in hospice for a little less than a month before she passed away at home. She passed away on May 1, the special day Tara and she used to share.
Tara will always remember her grandparents’ loving hearts, and the impact they’ve made on her life persists. She said she would take care of them “all over again” if she could.
Masonic Village Hospice offers bereavement services, and although Tara chose not to participate because of her strong faith and family network, she said she knew she could call for support, if she needed it.
“My grandparents were strong-willed and had amazing faith, so I know that they’re okay, too” Tara said.
She encourages anyone who is thinking about hospice services to not be afraid to reach out for help.
“Hospice is a word that people just jump and say, ‘This is the end.’ What I learned from Hospice is … it’s not necessarily the end,” Tara said. “They’re angels. This is what they do, and they do it because they care.”