Death brings out the kindness of this caregiver

     Have you ever wondered how some people choose their career?

Home Health Caregiver, Christina Thompson of Chicago said she found a passion for her profession after two people she was caring for, as a favor, died simultaneously. Well, it wasn’t exactly at the same time but according to Christina, they passed within 12 hours of each other.

I’d say that qualifies, wouldn’t you?

We hear about these things with elderly, married couples. However, this was the first I’d ever heard of siblings transitioning together.

Jane Thompson died April, 8, 2014, at 7:58 p.m. and her brother, Jake Crone, died April 9 at 7:55 a.m., while sitting at her bedside, peacefully mourning her passing. They were laid to rest in a double memorial, April 13. That date holds extra significance for Christina as it is also her wedding anniversary. That particular year marked her and husband, Gary’s first year of marriage. Jane was his mom and Jake, his uncle.

“Uncle Jake lived in an apartment within a retirement community,” said Christina. “He lived there independently for many years until he got Dementia.”

The progression of Mr. Crone’s illness escalated to the point that the establishment could no longer maintain his safety.

“He started wandering off and being unruly,” said Christina. “He didn’t have much by way of income which meant if he couldn’t stay there, he’d become a ward of the state and be institutionalized. I didn’t want that. Neither did Gary.”

Christina said she didn’t know her Uncle Jake very well. “My mother-in-law always had Gary drive her to see Uncle Jake.  I went with him a couple of times when they visited.” She said, “I don’t know how it came out of my mouth but I just told Gary that maybe Uncle Jake needed to come live with us.”

That decision meant Christina had to quit her job. It was a ‘living by faith’ decision because it reduced their household income significantly. Christina said, “We didn’t think we’d be able to afford it but we put our trust in God that it was the right thing to do.” It proved to be a wise choice because, just one month after their Uncle Jake moved in, Gary’s mom, Jane, was put on hospice from having stage 4 breast cancer and they moved her in too.

Just two months later, they were both gone.

“I expected my mother-in-law to go but not Uncle Jake,” said Christina. “We thought we’d have a few more good years with him.”

The story that Christina shares surrounding his passing sent chills down my spine.

“We had a picture of Jesus up on the wall above my mother-in-law’s bed. She loved that picture because her sister had painted it for her,” said Christina. “Uncle Jake would look up at it sometimes and holler, ‘Oh I don’t believe in Him. God doesn’t care about us!’ He just wasn’t the religious type.

“But on the day he died, he was sitting next to Jane’s bed, she had already passed, staring at that picture. It was unusual because Uncle Jake was always restless. I called for Gary to come from the other room so he could see it for himself. I said, ‘Gary, you’ve got to come and look how peaceful Uncle Jake is right now.’ Then, I watched him reach up toward that picture of Jesus and take one big deep breath.”

The coroner’s report listed his death as natural causes. 

The trauma of losing two family members simultaneously, before her eyes was extremely difficult on Christina. “I beat on his chest and screamed for him to breathe.” She said, “I was finding fulfillment in caring for him. I didn’t know what I was supposed to do with myself after he died.”

Attempting to resume the life she led prior to taking them in, Christina returned to working in a factory but after two short months, she resigned stating, “I just didn’t feel like I was being useful.”

Feeling emotion was something Christina said she relearned to do. In previous years she’d struggled with a drug addiction that left her unaware of how anyone was feeling, including herself.

“I’ve been clean for 10 years,” said Christina. “I feel like I was lead down this path to learn about myself. It’s taught me that I’m capable of handling more than I ever thought I could.”

Christina has been working as a fulltime home healthcare worker for over a year now. She says she enjoys caring for adults that aren’t able to care for themselves. “I want them to have their dignity. I want them to know I’m here for them because to me, they’re family.” 

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