Nov 29, 2013

Hospice helps patient enjoy visit to the farm

GREENVILLE – “If you don’t sit down and listen to someone and open your eyes and ears, you don’t know what is really on that patient’s mind,” explained State of the Heart Hospice nurse Christy Timmerman. Christy did listen to State of the Heart patient Velma Heck, 90, and arranged a special day for her visiting her favorite place: The country and a farm.

“One day she made a comment that she would sure like to drive a tractor one more time,” Timmerman said. Heck, who was born and raised in Darke County near Arcanum, had farmed for over 50 years. When she and her husband, Gerald, were married they decide that one of them had to have a “regular” job and the other could stay at home and farm. Velma decided to stay on the farm and for the years she farmed, she took her lunch with her and spent spring and fall days in the fields. Her husband, who is deceased, took a job at Hobart Manufacturing.

Heck has been a resident of the Brethren’s Retirement Community since 2002. Her room is filled with mementoes of her family and her days on the farm. A picture of her and Gerald’s farm is placed beside a picture of the farm Gerald was raised on. The two farms adjoined one another. A marble stand is under the photos, a high school graduation gift from her grandmother. There are miniature tractors on shelves lining the room.

“When Velma mentioned driving a tractor, I asked her what color tractor she preferred,” said Timmerman. “She crinkled her eyebrows and looked at me and said, ‘why green, of course’,” Timmerman said. “Then she chuckled.” Timmerman, who lives on a farm, began to plan a day on the farm for Heck. A day was arranged for Heck to visit a family farm in Darke County.

So, on a sunny October Friday, Heck’s daughter-in-law, Donna drove Heck to the Stump farm. Timmerman had taken the day off from her duties as a nurse for hospice. “When she saw the combine she said, ‘oh my, that is bigger than I remember. The tires are bigger than I am’. She grinned ear to ear,” said Timmerman. She did get to see her favorite color on John Deere equipment.

Not only was it meaningful for Heck, it also meant a lot to Timmerman to help make a special day for one of her patients. “I was so thankful we did it as it was so worth the effort,” Timmerman said. “It was one of those priceless moments to see the look on her face and the joy it brought her. That is what care is all about.”

Heck spent a couple of hours at the farm, looking at some of the older tractors. She was a little intimidated by the size of the tractors and changed her mind about climbing aboard one of them. Timmerman commented that Heck keeps track of the seasons of the year by knowing what the crops are doing, from planting to harvesting.

For over 50 years, she taught Sunday school at the Potsdam Church of the Brethren in addition to cooking and baking for various church functions. Her angel food cake was her specialty and is remembered by many.

Daughter-in-law Donna Heck said, “She really enjoyed going to the farm and looking at the tractors. She loves to take drives through the country and seeing the crops and fields. It was really nice of Christy to plan the day.”

Asked if she missed farm life, Heck said, “It was hard work but I enjoyed every minute of it. I sure do miss farming and would go right back to it if I were younger.”

Reflecting on helping create a special moment for a patient, Timmerman said, “One of the things God does is bring people and things together. We had a connection. In this case, I listened to Velma and since I lived on a farm, I knew how meaningful a visit to the farm would be for her.”


Velma Heck is pictured in front of a green John Deere combine.

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