Hospice is about Celebrating Life
In Memory: Ed CotterIf there’s one philosophy that truly describes Mount Carmel’s Hospice program, it is this—hospice is not about dying, it is about living until you die and celebrating your LIFE.
No one knew or preached this philosophy better than Ed Cotter, who at 89 was Mount Carmel Hospice’s self-proclaimed ambassador until his death on January 28, 2008.Cotter was a humorous man, a true gentleman, whom upon meeting for the first time, smiled at you as if you’d known each other for years. He was always impeccably dressed and at age 89 still had perfect 20/20 vision. He strived to bring laughter and humor into every aspect of his life and had a twinkle in his eye when he spoke about most things, including his beloved family: his late wife Louise, a beauty queen from Kenton, Ohio he married during his time in the service during World War II, their three children Tim, Christina and Eddie, and two grandchildren, Rory and Mauve.
Cotter, a Columbus native, had been involved with Mount Carmel’s Hospice program since its inception in 1985 when his wife Louise was diagnosed with cancer and referred to the newly created program.
I will never forget the care she received, especially from the nurses,” Cotter often said. “They treated us like friends, not strangers.”He served as a full-time caregiver to his wife, who spent her last months at their home. Through Hospice care Louise remained comforterable until the cancer eventually claimed her life. Their experience with Mount Carmel Hospice left a great impression on Cotter, who realized that he wanted to continue his involvement with the program. “I was so impressed with hospice right from the start, they were so helpful and kind and I felt they REALLY cared,” he often said. “I decided then that I, too, wanted to become part of the mission.”
Cotter went on to become a volunteer for Mount Carmel Hospice, volunteering for every aspect of the program he could. He relieved caregivers, wrote articles about the program for local newspapers and magazines, helped plant gardens and worked with Mount Carmel Hospice’s Evergreen Program, a bereavement program for young children who have been faced with a death in their life. After 10 years of volunteering a position opened up in an area where Cotter had experience so he jumped at the chance. And up until a short time before his death, Cotter was considered Mount Carmel’s oldest living employee.In addition to working at Hospice, Cotter gave quarterly talks to Mount Carmel College of Nursing students about the importance of being a caregiver. “Caregiving is so important and demanding,” he often said. “When everyone leaves, you are still there to hold a hand and say an encouraging word.”
In March of 2007 Cotter himself was enrolled in Mount Carmel’s hospice program, his diagnosis being lung and prostate cancer. He continued to work at Hospice once a week and gave one last talk at Mount Carmel College of Nursing before becoming bedridden in the fall. None of that shattered his positive outlook on life.
I love life, life is magical!” he would say. “Every day, I try to meet a new stranger and make them laugh in some way. It’s so great to meet new people.”On January 28, 2008, Cotter lost his battle to cancer, but he will be remembered for many years to come. If there ever was someone who truly embraced Hospice’s philosophy of living your life and celebrating your life, it was Ed Cotter, Mount Carmel Hospice’s true ambassador.