Close Print View Issue

A boat ride, a bucket list, and so much more

Gail Gordon smiled from ear to ear as the boat cut a big wake through the waves of Kezar Lake in the western town of Lovell, Maine. She was flanked by two of the people she cares most about in this world—her son, Derek, and Rosa, her partner of 14 years. Gail just turned 58 on July 5, and despite living her life in Maine, has never been in a boat on any one of the state’s roughly six thousand lakes and ponds. “I just had never done it before; it was on my bucket list actually,” Gail explained.

Crossing items off her bucket list is a priority for Gail. Four months ago, she learned that her stage four colon cancer had metastasized to her lungs and that treatment was no longer an option. She entered hospice care with VNA Home Health Hospice and focused on living her life as well as she can with the time she has left.

Gail shared, "It’s been an amazing experience. People laugh when I tell them, but when they asked me how the VNA services are, I say I would highly recommend it.” She feels this way because her care workers at VNA have helped her focus on what’s important. They have gone above and beyond what she ever expected. 

file1-1.jpegLiz Patterson, RN, is the case manager for VNA Home Health Hospice who was assigned to Gail. Gail said she mentioned in casual conversation with Liz that she wanted to go on a boat ride, not ever knowing that Liz had a camp on a lake, and a boat. "These nurses do it all out of their heart and compassion," said Gail.

Liz sought permission to take Gail on the boat ride and once she got the green light from VNA, she and Gail started making plans. They decided that the boat ride would happen on the last Saturday in June. Gail took Rosa with her down to Liz’s camp, and after introductions and a brief tour around the property, they headed down to the shorefront and gave Gail her choice of boats—a pontoon boat, or a speedboat. Gail thought her aches and pains would be too hard to handle on the speedboat, so she opted for the pontoon boat instead.

“It was beautiful, and we all just sat and talked about the weather, a little bit of this, a little bit of that, what’s in the news. It wasn’t like Liz was my nurse. It was just like a bunch of us out on a pontoon boat enjoying the afternoon,” Gail said.

file-28-(3).jpegGail was having so much fun that Liz wanted to make her one final offer—to try out the speedboat. Derek and Rosa convinced Gail to go for a spin, telling her they could always turn back if it became too much.

Gail never asked to turn back. At first, she sat in the back of the boat, and then she sat in the bow with Liz. Gail may have put “boat ride on a lake” on her bucket list, but really what she was looking for, and what Liz gave her, was much more than that.“We couldn’t hear each other talk because of the wake of the waves. All we did was laugh. It was fun, and I didn’t even think for a minute that I was sick; that was the best part of it.”

Editor’s Note: Gail Gordon passed away at her home on August 16 with her family present. A celebration of her life was held on August 26 in Hiram, Maine.