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The Glue That Held Everything Together

Image of Janice Mensinger and FamilyJanice Mensinger, wife, mom, friend, and mentor is described as the glue that held everything together for those around her. Janice was first diagnosed with congestive heart failure at age 77. Her daughter Carol said, “Over the course of her condition, Mom took excellent care of herself, always did all the ‘right’ things as advised by her doctor.”

Even with all her planning and extra care to do what her doctors advised, the disease would cause her defibrillator to shock her fragile heart twice. Carol explained that the most recent shock on August 15, 2017, pushed her mother to begin to prepare her family for the day she would no longer be with them.

Janice and Terry in Chicago Cubs shirts.Janice and her husband, Terry, celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary with their family on October 12, 2017. On that day Janice called for an official “family meeting” to discuss what everyone’s thoughts were on her care, Five Wishes, do not resuscitate order (DNR), and eventual burial or cremation. Carol said, “my mom was always the planner; the more she planned, the more comfortable she was.”

After three hospital stays in the beginning of 2018, and final diagnosis that her heart had declined drastically, Janice met with the palliative care team at the hospital. It became clear that it was hospice care that Mom needed, and the arrangements were made to move her home.

Carol recalled, “I don’t really think Mom knew how quickly she would deteriorate. As her family, we certainly did not. The hospital bed was delivered after that first long, sleepless night. As a family, we took turns caring for her all day and all night.”

Janice’s Hospice at Home social worker, Amanda, realized the exhaustion and stress the fear for Janice’s safety was having on the family. Carol said, “with Amanda in our living room surrounding Mom in her hospital bed, we shared with Mom our concerns and talked to her about getting care at a hospice facility.” She continued, “I will never forget how wonderful Amanda was in explaining that we could now just be Mom’s family–her husband, her children and grandchildren–we didn’t need to be her caretakers.”

Janice and her daughters at the Hanson Hospice Center.Butterfly room number two at the Merlin and Carolyn Hanson Hospice Center became Janice and her family’s new home. Carol said, “we slept with her in her private room, ate with her, listened to Cubs games on the radio, talked, prayed, and shared feelings, memories, laughter, and tears.” She went on to say, “the staff opened their arms and hearts with amazing care and love for Mom.”

As much planning as Janice and her family had done, they were overwhelmed with the fact of 24/7 care, and financially unprepared for what that meant. Carol said, “the reality of our family situation, I am sure, is one that is not uncommon to many families.”

Their family had exhausted every means available to secure Medicaid, and when all avenues failed, they were literally 15 minutes away from having to move their Mom out of the Hanson Hospice Center. It was at that moment that the family received a phone call letting them know that their mom qualified for funds from the “Hanson Fund.” Carol recalled that her brother said it best, “our family truly won the lottery that day.”

Rainbow over the family farm on the day Janice died.With her family around her, holding her hands and surrounding her with love, Janice passed away on what Carol described as “a beautiful sunny Sunday morning.” She continued, “later that evening a beautiful rainbow appeared over the Mensinger Vineyards, one final sign that Mom was now in her heavenly home.”

Carol shared, “our family will be forever grateful to the Hanson Hospice Center and the wonderful staff who cared for Mom day and night. There are just no words to adequately say thank you.”

The families we serve at Caring Circle become part of our families. Our loving and caring support does not end with a loved one's death but continues through grief healing and the journey toward finding your new normal. Your financial support ensures these programs will continue to provide compassionate, quality of life care and comfort to our families and neighbors facing their individual grief journeys.

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