Fisher House guest Laura Urquhart, daughter of a Cold War veteran, was able to spend the final days of her father’s life by his side at the Milwaukee Fisher House. She shares how the little things brought her comfort during this difficult time.
When Cold War Navy veteran Robert Urquhart from Fond du Lac, Wisconsin took a turn for the worse, his daughter Laura traveled from Dallas, Texas to be with him. His diabetes had led to an amputation of his foot, and the complications escalated. He was transferred from his local hospital to the Clement J. Zablocki VA Medical Center in Milwaukee, Wisconsin via ambulance with Laura by his side.
“Wow, on that first day it was scary. It was very scary for my dad because he had had an infection, he was falling, he was having hallucinations and delusions, and it was a very scary time. I wanted to ride in an ambulance with him, so he had some sort of reference.”
Not knowing where she would go or where she would stay, she made the trip. Then she learned about Fisher House.
“I felt safe, I felt secure, and I felt everything here is meant to have all your needs met,” she explained. “I just felt so secure knowing that I'm a five-minute walk away and I can get up there immediately. That took away some of the stress and the worry and the fear of being too far away.”
It wasn’t only the proximity that made a difference. She said that being able to have a routine each day–make a coffee, sit on the patio, pack some snacks, and then visit her dad–made a big impact. She appreciated the extra touches that made Fisher House feel like a home.
“There was a quilt in the corner on a chair with a note saying it was for me,” she said. “I sleep in my (Fisher House) bed every night and it doesn't matter what the temperature is, that makes me feel comforted. And it makes me feel like I'm important to somebody because I'm up here a lot by myself and it can get lonely.”
During her stay, she formed such a deep friendship with another guest that they were mistaken as being sisters.
“You can build those kinds of relationships, even in a really short time, because you're in the same situation, you're both hurting, you're in a hard situation, but you're with other people that are going through the same thing,” she said. “You have that same sort of support from each other and anything that would hinder people from just speaking freely is gone because you already know why you're there, you already know it's a hard time, and you really just want to support each other.”
“The staff is really good, always really helpful going out of their way,” she continued. “Jennifer [Keifer, the Fisher House manager], she really made me feel like I was somebody really important, just for being me. Maybe that's her gift, to make that one person feel like they are that important.”
“I'm a long way from home. I don't have any family in the area, but I feel safe, secure, and well-taken care of so that I can focus 100% on my dad.”
Sadly, Robert passed away on August 21, 2021. Fisher House is honored to have provided comfort to Laura during her father’s final days.