Marilee Hemstock-Swenson

A Peaceful Death, A Grateful Daughter

     Marilee Hemstock-Swenson
Marilee Hemstock-Swenson  has maintained strong ties to La Crosse, even though she now makes her home in Mantorville, Minnesota. She’s received medical care in nearby Rochester, and also in Arizona where she spends her winters. Nowhere has she seen the friendly atmosphere she has experienced at Gundersen Lutheran. “I still feel more at home here,” Marilee admits. Her  admiration for the quality of care provided at Gundersen Lutheran took on a new dimension this year, during the final illness of her 91-year old mother, Midge (Mildred) Hemstock.

“Mother was very ready to die. She wanted to be with her Lord, and my dad,” says Marilee. “She just wanted to be comfortable, and that’s what we wanted, too, as the family.” After being admitted to the hospital on May 1, Marilee’s mother entered the inpatient hospice program where she received palliative care until her death 11 days later.

“I can’t say enough about how they took care of her,” says Midge’s very grateful daughter. “As a family member, it was just wonderful.” She still refers to her mother’s hospice caregivers as “angels” who showed such love, respect, and empathy throughout those final days. “I had never seen care like that,” says Marilee. “I know that Mother did not suffer. She had the very peaceful death she wanted.”

Midge Hemstock had even planned her own funeral. She wrote the obituary, chose her pallbearers, specified her favorite songs and Bible verses, and selected who was to provide the lunch service. She also requested that memorials be directed to several of her favorite charities, including Gundersen Lutheran Medical Foundation. Midge and her late husband, Cecil, were longtime supporters of the Foundation, dating back to their life membership as Founder’s Level donors to what was then Gundersen Medical Foundation. As members of the Legacy Society, they had established a Charitable Remainder Trust that included the Foundation as a beneficiary.

Marilee plans to continue giving in her mother’s memory. “I have been a supporter of the Foundation for years. If someone passed in La Crosse who I knew, my memorials almost always went to Gundersen Lutheran,” she explains. “I plan to do more now, not just because Mother won’t be there to continue, but because of this hospice experience. They cared for me as much as Mother, and when she took her last breath, the same nurse who admitted her was there to cry along with me. Each member of that team was just wonderful.”

Gundersen Lutheran Hospice provides care for approximately 65 patients every month—patients diagnosed with terminal conditions who receive their hospice care in either home or inpatient settings. Our dear friend Midge Hemstock would be proud to know that memorials made in her honor, directed to the Foundation’s Hospice Fund, will be helping these patients and their loved ones even beyond her lifetime.
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