On June 15, 2009, my beloved husband, Paul, lost his battle with melanoma. He was at Gilchrist Center in Towson when he died; cared for by amazing nurses, social workers and aides. During his eight days there, they kept him comfortable and allowed him to maintain his dignity, but perhaps just as importantly, they guided us – his family and friends – along this new, frightening and uncertain path our lives had been forced to take.
Those eight days at Gilchrist Center are still vivid in my mind. I remember driving to Towson from our Clarksville home every morning and staying late into the night. I remember our wonderful family and friends who made the same drive and crowded into Paul’s room each day to say both hello and goodbye. At Gilchrist Center, he could still be Paul Kelley, the hockey coach, the father, the strong one-and not just Paul Kelley, the patient.
I remember that Paul was so well cared for at Gilchrist Center that he had the time and energy to focus on the most mundane of worries-whether I had remembered to take out the trash, whether the lawn had been mowed, and whether his wonderful children and cherished family dog were taken care of. Paul said something interesting to me on the ambulance ride from our River Hill home to Towson on that first day: As we were making the long drive from Western Howard County to northern Baltimore County, he kept asking, “Why don’t they have a place in Howard County?”.
On June 15, 2011, Gilchrist Center Howard County opened their doors. Paul’s request was granted. Walking through the halls, I get the same sense of home and comfort that I felt walking the halls of Gilchrist Center in Towson several years ago. It is the same professional care closer to home. Thank you to Gilchrist for providing the best possible care for Paul during his last days and helping us, his family and friends, to cherish those final hours with him.
Our family and friends have established The Paul J. Kelley, Jr. Charitable Foundation, Inc. in memory of Paul. The foundation holds an annual St. Patrick’s Day Bash with funds benefiting Gilchrist Center Howard County. I hope you will gather with us to celebrate Paul’s life and his Irish heritage (everyone can be a little Irish on St. Patrick’s Day) on Tuesday, March 17, at Clarksville Gathering Place, 6:00 to 10:00pm. For information contact: PJKFoundation@mccabeins.com
Tickets will not be sold at the door, so please be sure to purchase tickets by March 10th. Click here for more information.