Taking Care of Mom: Jane Clark's Story

The eighth of 11 children, Violet Robinson grew up in an extremely poor, but close-knit and loving family that was highly regarded by everyone that knew them. Violet’s father immigrated from Croatia and worked as a coal miner and her mother, of Serbian descent, took care of the house and kids. Both her parents became U.S. citizens and taught their children the value of hard work and patriotism. Violet was born in Johnston, Iowa in 1924. She was a shy and quiet child and young adult, and after graduating high school, attended 4Cs (Capital City Commercial College) where she trained as a secretary.

While working at Meredith, she met her husband, Dale, on a blind date. Six months later they married and spent 53 happy years together. “Her family and faith were extremely important to her,” remembers her daughter Jane Clark. “She played the organ for her church for over 30 years. Mom loved to garden, play the piano, host dinners for family and friends, decorate and read. After mom retired as an executive secretary for several downtown firms, she took a pottery class at the Art Center. She LOVED throwing pots and shared her pieces with many in the family.”

Violet had been doing her own shopping and errands until early 2020, when Jane took over those duties because of her mother’s pain and difficulty walking. “When COVID hit, I took over more duties. Mom steadily weakened during 2020 and told us she wanted to make it through Christmas. The last week in December she spiraled down very quickly,” says Jane. “Mom insisted she wanted to go to hospice.”

Violet received EveryStep Hospice in-home care at first and in early 2021 entered hospice care at EveryStep’s Kavanagh House on 56th Street in Des Moines. “The entire staff at Kavanagh House was just amazing,” says Jane. “During mom's first week, she was strong enough to sit and visit with staff and share about her life and faith.”

Barb Anderson, Violet’s other daughter, was also touched by the care of the hospice staff. “We felt embraced and supported throughout our mom’s stay, never seeing anything but professional competence given with love and compassion.”

Violet was at Kavanagh House for four weeks. “During that time mom received such tender care,” says Jane. “Any time I had a question, concern or just needed a pep talk, someone was more than willing.” Jane spent several hours each day with her mother and was surprised at how tired she was after those visits. That’s when the Kavanagh House staff took care of her, too. “As mom weakened and slept more, I was encouraged to take more time for myself. They reassured me many times I was doing everything I needed to do for mom.”

Barb also appreciated the care the hospice team provided to the family. “Jane and I relied on the wisdom and knowledge of the staff for sharing perspective and the daily prognosis for our mom. We were grateful for each one and their gifts of wisdom, presence and kindness. They were vitally important to us and to our mom.”

Jane remembers the little things the Kavanagh House staff did to make the time spent there special. “We all LOVED the bird feeder outside her window. Every need mom had was taken care of tenderly and efficiently,” says Jane. “One day I remember coming in for my visit and I could tell mom had received a bath and new bedding. She was in a purple nightgown with purple sheets and blanket. That was a delight to see.”

“I always felt comfortable when I wasn't there because I knew she received great care,” Jane remembers. “Hospice was absolutely the right choice for mom.” Jane’s sister Barb agrees. “For us, hospice provided exactly what we needed -- care for our precious mom, insight into the dying process and, always, support for the family. It could not have gone better.”

Violet slipped away in her sleep very peacefully the night of February 16, 2021. “She had always told us she wanted to die in her sleep. I had never seen the dying process and I'm so very grateful I was able to experience it with mom and my family at Kavanagh House,” says Jane. “Hospice gave her a very warm place with caring and attentive staff who allowed her to pass away with dignity and grace on February 16, 2021. I would recommend hospice unconditionally to anyone who might be interested.  Our experience was truly amazing. It was a beautiful experience.” 

EveryStep Hospice is Iowa’s oldest and largest not-for-profit, community-based hospice provider. To learn more about EveryStep Hospice, visit www.everystep.org/services/hospiceIf you or someone you know is struggling to find the support they need, please contact EveryStep at 515-558-9946 or complete the commitment-free, confidential “Find Care” form on EveryStep’s website at www.everystep.org/find-care. EveryStep staff will follow up with a phone call to answer your questions and provide assistance.

EveryStep is looking for nurses in our hospice and home care programs. If you are interested, visit www.everystep.org/careers or email HR@everystep.org.

Pictured above (L-R): Barb Anderson, Violet Robinson, Jane Clark