Christmas in OctoberBy Seasons | November 06, 2017
Christmas doesn’t usually arrive in the small town of Forest Grove, Oregon until December, but this year, it came early for one family.
Audex “Audie” Gay was a fixture in the Forest Grove Community. Always smiling with a joyful soul, Audie worked in town for years at Phil’s Subs. Audie was lively and outgoing, quick to start up a conversation with anyone that she met. A “take-charge” type of person, Audie was the matriarch of her family, and in many senses, was the matriarch of the small community that she served. Just as she would for her own family, Audie was always quick to help out anyone in the community, never expecting anything in return.
When Audie was diagnosed with cancer, it hit the community hard. How could someone with such a kind heart be facing such a terrible disease?
“I’ve been so overwhelmed by all of the visits and casseroles that have been coming in to our home,” she told our staff. These heartfelt offerings of food weren’t just coming from close friends; they were also coming from people that Audie had served at Phil’s over the years.
This October, as Audie’s health was rapidly declining, our staff discovered how much Audie loved Christmas and how sad she was that she would miss her family’s celebration this year.
Knowing what a loving, giving person Audie was, we knew that we had to make Christmas happen for our Audie, but we also knew we didn’t have much time. Our team sprang into action. They worked with Seasons Hospice Foundation to purchase everything needed for a family breakfast and presents for the family. We knew about 15-20 of Audie’s children, grandchildren and other families would attend, so we had lots to buy! Our Executive Director, Emma, and Staff Development Manager, Brian, got involved, racing down the aisles of a local department store like they were on a game show, gathering items to pull together the perfect “Christmas” celebration. They even got every single member of the family a pair of comfy pajamas, so it would truly feel like Christmas morning.
The morning of Audie’s celebration, the family had a Christmas tree decorated with twinkling lights.
They had all of the Christmas decor out. The TV was playing the movie Santa Claus with Tim Allen. Her ten grandchildren sang one of their traditional Christmas songs, “Slippery Fish,” as Audie was wheeled out into the living room. She lit up, grinning so big when she heard this!
The family cooked their traditional Christmas breakfast with supplies provided by the Foundation and everyone was celebrating with goblets of mimosas (Audie’s favorite!). There was so much joy and love in the air as Audie was surrounded by her friends, family and adopted family! There were presents galore from our team. There were also some gifts from her oncology team, who told our team repeatedly how much they loved Audie! Everyone was thrilled to open their stockings and gifts.
Our Hospice Care Consultants, Laura and Rita, noticed two granddaughters sitting in a recliner together. They were supporting one another, laughing and enjoying their family. Laura said, “One of them turned to me during the celebration to ask how did this all come together and who did this. She couldn’t believe that people who didn’t even know them would care so much.”
But it was easy for our team to see why the community rallied around this woman, who was so obviously the glue that held her family together. It brought our team so much joy to see Audie have the celebration she deserved. The children were almost matching in their pajamas and we all laughed as Audie’s two year old grandson ran around in his new Spider-Man onesie. He truly thought he was a super hero! Audie herself was in the spirit, wearing a pair of Monsters, Inc pajamas.
Audie had ten grandkids that ranged in age from 2 to 17. It was very sweet and touching to watch each of them embrace Audie. They all knew that this was their last Christmas with her and were visibly upset. Each kid hugged Audie and she held her hand to their faces. It was so touching to see them have the opportunity to tell their grandmother how much they loved her and what she meant to them
As the breakfast came to a close, Audie repeatedly told our staff how incredibly grateful she was for this special celebration. We are thankful to Audie, as our lives will forever be better for the time she was with us.