A Story from Our Hospice Houses: The Govi Family

The EveryStep team supports patients, clients and their families and helps them find quality of life during their time of need. That’s exactly what the organization did for the Govi family at the end of 2017.

Gary R. Govi, who suffered from anemia and Parkinson’s disease, spent the last few months of his life at the Kavanagh House on 56th Street, where he made quite the impression on staff. Gary’s daughter Debra “Debbie” Richards, credits the EveryStep team with making her father’s final days as comfortable as possible. “He wouldn’t have gotten the care and the love that he needed, and we wouldn’t have gotten that time together. I am thankful for them each and every day.”

The goal at Kavanagh House on 56th Street is to make residents as comfortable as possible in their final days, accommodating their wishes to ensure that they feel at home. For Debbie’s father Gary, this meant aides and nurses rolling his wheelchair outside when he wanted to enjoy a few minutes outdoors — even in freezing cold weather. 

“God, these people were amazing. They would actually heat up blankets so that he would be warm outside—in negative 6 degree weather.” Debbie laughed.

To show his appreciation, Govi wanted to provide a goodie bag for Kavanagh House staff at Christmas. With Debbie’s help, he was able to provide the staff with plastic baggies full of candy canes, caramels and Hershey kisses.

The bags weren’t just filled with candies, however. Gary also added ribbons that said, “Proud US Army Veteran of the Korean War,” and a pendant that had a jewel encrusted angel on it, which many of the nurses turned into necklaces.

Attached to the baggies was a note that read:

“Merry Christmas to you, the Kavanagh House Army of Angels who have taken me under your wings. I appreciate the care and concern you show me and my girls every day. May you and your family have a safe and happy holiday season. I, too, will be watching over you one day. Love, Gary.”

After three months at Kavanagh House, Gary was moved to a nursing home. Two weeks later, he passed away.

“It’s life-changing,” Debbie said with tears in her eyes. “The happiest memories I have with my dad were because of EveryStep. I am forever grateful.” 

This story is an edited excerpt of a piece written by Drake University student Caroline Hogan.