I suspect I’m not the only one around here who feels both happy and sad about Jan Cauffman’s departure as our Parish Nurse. I’m happy that she is heading in an exciting new direction in this later chapter of her life, pursuing what she calls her “heart call” working as a specialist in palliative care with the adult/gerontology population. To prepare herself for this venture, she is earning a Post Master’s Nurse Practitioner Certification at Villanova. Her last day with us will be December 18. At the same time, I am sad for us. Jan has been our Parish Nurse for nearly 10 years, visiting members in their homes and in hospitals and rehab and nursing facilities to offer medical advice and emotional support; notifying church members about important health education programs and resources in the community; providing referrals to members as they encounter a health condition and make medical decisions; offering bereavement counseling; facilitating several church programs for members to consider their long-term care needs; organizing annual Red Cross blood drives; and meeting regularly with the Caregivers’ Support Group, the Parkinson’s Interest Group, and the Conversations on Aging Group – to name just a few of the things she does. I think of Jan as a co-minister, offering a caring pastoral presence, particularly to our older members. I also think of her as an angel because she is unfailingly and genuinely concerned about the well-being of others. And I’m not the only one who thinks so. Several of you have told me that a visit from Jan is like the visitation of an angel. Why, she even plays the harp!
We have no one to blame but ourselves for her departure. According to Jan, “You all showed me the way forward!” She says that all the discussions and programs on purposeful aging, plus the countless private conversations about what matters in our lives, have, in her words, “taken root and given me wings.”
Always responsible and thinking of others, Jan has joined with me in interviewing several candidates for her position. (Notice that I didn’t say for her replacement because there will never be another Jan). We have been extremely fortunate in finding a competent, qualified nurse who is a Quaker. Our new Parish Nurse will be Anne Baer Clark, who has extensive experience with end-of-life care. Specifically, she has spent nearly her entire career in hospice care with patients in hospitals, nursing facilities, and their homes, coordinating their care and supporting and educating their families. But just as important for us, Anne conveys a warm pastoral presence. She will accompany Jan over the next month so that Jan may introduce her to members on visits and in our support groups. I think you will be pleased to meet her.
In the meantime, we will be saying our goodbyes to our angel. I hope that you will attend our December 15 service, when we will give Jan our official goodbye.
With appreciation for a devoted colleague,
Rev. Dr. Neal R. Jones