blue ridge mountains with sunlight and haze

Meemaw and Ashley

January 27, 2022
Meemaw & Ashley

Ashley Leonard grew up a mile and a half away from her Meemaw, Bernice Sesler. She and her brother grew up riding bikes to her house and Meemaw cooked dinner for them every Thursday.

“She definitely spoiled us,” Ashley admitted. Ashley describes her Meemaw as “this fierce little spit fire” whose independence helped her to live at home for 89 years.

Family Visit during Covid

When Meemaw did move into Raleigh Court Health and Rehab Center in 2016, the staff would tell Ashley her Meemaw was “sweet” and Meemaw would smile and tell Ashley she was “not causing any trouble.”  It is here that she celebrated her 95th birthday in January 2022 and it is here that she, like so many others, has endured the Covid countless challenges, the facility lock-downs, the separation from family.

“I visited Meemaw on March 10 of 2020 and two days later I was asking myself when I would ever see her again,” Ashley recalled. “It was hard. We tried Face Timing with her, but it became hit and miss because now the facility staff was juggling an incredible amount of extra Covid work.”

Meemaw with Ashley at hospital admission
Meemaw with her daughter, Nancy

Sadly, it was almost a year before Ashley would see her Meemaw in person again and that reunion was in the hospital emergency room. Meemaw’s health had dramatically declined. She was in and out of consciousness and they weren’t sure she would ever have the strength to leave the hospital.

“I spent hours with her,” Ashley recalled. “She, literally, had not seen her family in a year so I just kept Face Timing with everyone so they could talk to her.”

Right in step with her being the “fierce little spitfire” that Ashley remembered, Meemaw did, indeed, regain enough strength to return to Raleigh Court with Good Sam now being a part of her care team. Ashley explained that the decision to call Good Sam was not an easy one. Integrating the notion of hospice care for Meemaw required a very different perspective.

Meemaw a couple weeks later under Good Sam's care

“Our mindset was that hospice means the end,” Ashley said. “We had no idea what it actually meant, what it encompassed, but it wasn’t long before we started seeing a positive change in her.”

“And it is incredible how involved we feel,” Ashley said. “The hospice team keeps us informed of her treatment and lets us know what she is wanting and needing.”

That even includes a bologna sandwich! A couple of months ago, Good Sam called and let Ashley know that Meemaw was asking for a bologna sandwich.

Freshly painted nails & Little Debbie Cakes!

“I was so thrilled to bring it to her and she was so excited to have it,” Ashley said. “We are just amazed at how well she is doing. I did not think we would see her 95th birthday, and I absolutely attribute that to having Good Sam involved.”

Meemaw's 95th birthday party with Good Sam team

Ashley says that Meemaw genuinely looks forward to her hospice team’s visits. She also loves having her nails done and especially enjoys Little Debbie cakes – chocolate, please!

“The most relieving part of all is knowing that someone we trust is regularly checking in with her. She thrives on this interaction,” Ashley said. “We could never have imagined how much joy it brings her….and it shows. When Good Sam speaks of quality over quantity, they aren’t kidding!”