Renee Kinder

I lost my grandmother Saturday. 

I type and I cry.

Jean Carolyn Noffsinger Brown. A life well lived.

A precious life that should not be forgotten.

My last living grandparent gone, during this nightmare of a pandemic, and while she resided in a skilled nursing facility, no less. 

To the team at Bradford Heights Health and Rehab Center in Hopkinsville, KY, we are forever grateful. I experienced your kindness and your approach to care at end of life and must say you are second to none. 

There is much being said about the precious nature of life these days. 

All of us have individuals in our lives who raised us, shaped us and made us who we become as adults.

I have been often asked what drove me to this industry in long-term care. I am, after all, a speech pathologist by background. Schools are the typical setting. Cute little kiddos who say their “s” and “r” incorrectly (I know I am simplifying), summers off, and the same schedule as your children. 

No thank you. Much love to my school SLP colleagues. But I would lose my mind in a school setting. 

To understand why there was never any setting for me aside from long-term care, you must understand my childhood, the time spent with grandparents and great-grandparents and the life experiences I learned from them all. 

What are the lessons I cherish the most?

Most obviously, respect your elders

From the grandfather Pitzer (DanDan), strangers are simply friends you have yet to meet. Childhood outings with him always extended based on interactions with company old and new, and he never could resist a good debate.

Debate brings me to my next point. Whether you are like my grandmother Pitzer (NeNe) and would walk a mile to avoid a disagreement or like my DanDan who would run five to get to one, remember to be comfortable with a respectful disagreement. 

Listen to others.

Hard work works. Hard work never hurt anybody. Any quote based on work ethic, pretty much sums up my Grandfather Brown. Work ethic and the fact that there is an art to letter writing. This is a lesson I need to pick back up. 

Manners matter.

Keep well your space. Clean under, behind, above, in all places. Thank you, Grandmother Brown. This one is particularly useful in a household of seven. 

Childhood should be magical, holiday celebrations should be over the top, and there is no joy like finding someone the perfect gift! Thank you, Nene, for these lessons. 

Good meals are good for the soul.

Finally, above all, there is no love, and I mean no love, like that of a grandparent. 

Renee Kinder, MS, CCC-SLP, RAC-CT, is Vice President of Clinical Services for Broad River Rehab and a 2019 APEX Award of Excellence winner in the Writing–Regular Departments & Columns category. Additionally, she serves as Gerontology Professional Development Manager for the American Speech Language Hearing Association’s (ASHA) gerontology special interest group, is a member of the University of Kentucky College of Medicine community faculty, and is an advisor to the American Medical Association’s Relative Value Update Committee (RUC) Health Care Professionals Advisory Committee (HCPAC).