“He just blossomed in the end. We saw what hospice can do for someone. I was amazed!”

This is how Mike Kelly describes the meaningful impact Collabria Hospice (formerly known as Napa Valley Hospice & Adult Day Services) made on the life of his brother Tim Kelly, in Tim’s final weeks.

With the help of Collabria Care’s comprehensive services and compassionate care, Tim was comfortable to spend the time he had left doing what he loved most.

After serving in the Army Tank Corps in Germany during the mid-1950’s, Tim returned to the States to begin his career managing movie theaters. Tim had a passion for film and spent the next 40 years dedicated to what he called the “Popcorn side of the business.” Although given opportunities to advance to higher management positions, Tim always wanted to be at the front where the people were. He loved watching viewers as they left the theater. He’d say, “That is where the magic happens—in the minds of the people.”

Upon retiring, Tim moved to a secluded spot by the ocean and became a self-proclaimed hermit for 15 years. While his passion for movies did not dull — he put his encyclopedic knowledge and love of the movie industry to use and began his own twitter blog and movie collection — he was isolated.

So, with some trepidation, he realized he couldn’t be alone anymore and made the choice to move to the Veteran’s Home in Yountville.

Just two months prior to his move, Tim was diagnosed with congestive heart failure. He found himself in and out of hospitals multiple times. During his third hospitalization, Tim was uncomfortable. He was hallucinating, his blood pressure and oxygen levels were low, and he was exhausted. He’d grown tired of hospitals, needle sticks, tests, scans, and x-rays.

In fact once, when he’d fallen in his room, he told his nurse that he was just sitting on the floor watching TV because the thought of more trips to the hospital was more than he could bear.

That’s when his doctor suggested Collabria Hospice.

Upon hearing the word “hospice,” Mike and Tim just froze—a typical response for those unfamiliar with our services.

“Tim asked a lot of questions and as we learned more about what it would be like when he signed up,”

Mike recalls. “My brother began to relax. His life was suddenly transformed and a sense of calm took hold. Tim told me that the last month of his life under hospice was one of the best times of his life. He stopped worrying and started to enjoy the things that made him happy. He’d tell me, ‘You know… I can have a diet soda if I want one. Plus, whenever you visit I want to go out and get a really good hamburger,’ which we did.  He became open and excited about visits from nephews and nieces and actually stunned us by making phone calls to other family members to catch up! We all had time for finding out what an interesting and fine person our hermit brother was, and learned from him and laughed with him.”

Mike reflects, “It became a time of real peace and of adjusting expectations. Tim was so calm, happy, and not worried. All of this came from his care. The hospice feeling permeated Tim and the whole family. It was wonderful…just wonderful. All of our lives were enriched.”

As Mike said goodbye on what turned out to be the last day he would spend with Tim, he said, “Tim, as I leave, I’m going to give you a Frank Sinatra wave – you know the one where he runs his finger across the brim of his hat? I said, ‘Are you ready?’ And he said, ‘Okay.’ I did it and he returned the salute. Then I said, ‘See you Tim.’ He said, ‘See you Mike.’ It was a goodbye just like you’d see in the movies he loved so much.”

Tim’s experience offers a beautiful example of what Collabria Hospice provides for our patients and their families—comfort, relief, and the opportunity to focus on each other, and do what is most important or meaningful to every individual.