My Corner, Your Corner: Leaving the area brought me closer to home

My Corner, Your Corner - Tony Callaio

Sometimes things just happen for a reason.

From time to time, I get asked to cover a story or take photos for other newspapers under the Civitas Media umbrella, like the Times Leader, Abington Journal or Dallas Post. It’s actually fun to go outside my comfort zone of Greater Pittston.

I enjoy meeting new people and getting to know new surroundings like the Abingtons and Back Mountain areas. Sometimes it’s a challenge to find where a job is located and the old GPS comes in handy, like it did last weekend.

I had to cover a butterfly release at St. Gabriel’s Monastery in South Abington Township. I had never been to St. Gabe’s, so I went online to check out Google maps and zero in on the location. I was familiar with that area since it was in the direction of Birchwood Tennis & Fitness Club, where I played tennis many times and took my daughters for tennis lessons.

St. Gabriel’s is a bit further from the tennis facility so I turned on my GPS and found it without a hitch, but once I arrived, the parking lot was packed and I had to make my own parking spot.

When I get an assignment, I often will read over my instructions on what the newspaper is looking for and what the event is, but on this day, I only glanced to see that it was a butterfly release.

I’ve covered butterfly releases in the past and usually it involves an elementary school raising caterpillars until they change into butterflies, which are then released.

As I sat in my car before heading into the monastery, I re-read my instructions. AseraCare Hospice sponsored the event and the butterfly release was in honor of loved ones that have passed. When I read the assignment in its entirety, I sat there for a minute and thought, “Wow, I just lost my mother seven weeks earlier; this might be a difficult thing to cover.”

Once inside, hospice director Chrissy Jacoby and district administrator Doreen Foy greeted me. I told Ms. Jacoby of my mother’s recent passing. She turned to me and said, “You see, you got this assignment because you were meant to be here.”

Hmm. Maybe she was right.

My attention then turned to my photo work. When things got underway, I sat in the front so I’d be poised to shoot more photos if necessary.

During the program, people from the audience were asked to come up and reflect about a loved one who had passed. Most in attendance had someone pass away while in hospice care.

Thankfully, I recorded the event because my mind drifted a bit to reflect on my own personal experiences. My mother was in hospice care for 10 days before she passed away.

Many from the audience lauded the staff at AseraCare for their hard work and dedication. The hospice director spoke about how her nursing career turned into caring for those facing end-of-life situations.

My mom was not cared for by AseraCare, but Celtic Care at Geisinger South in Wilkes-Barre. Even though everyone at the butterfly release praised the staff at AseraCare, I had similar thoughts on the staff that took care of my mother.

When members of the audience stopped offering their personal reflections, Ms. Jacoby asked one last time if anyone wanted to speak. For a split second, I almost got up to address the crowd, but I didn’t. I now regret not doing so.

I wanted to tell the attendees my story and to express my thankfulness for those in the field of hospice. Hell, if I had a chance, I’d hug each and every one of the staff present.

The care and compassion that goes into the job of taking care of someone’s family member who is about to die is incredible. It’s not a job for everyone. It takes a special person to handle death every day and to give someone you love the chance to die with dignity.

I’m grateful I had the chance to cover the story; it was helpful to me. Perhaps my assigning editor didn’t realize the job I was getting would hit so close to home, but as the saying goes — things happen for a reason.

Quote of the week

“Books are but waste paper unless we spend in action the wisdom we get from thought.” – Edward G. Bulwer-Lytton, British poet.

Thought of the week

“A good laugh and a good cry both cleanse the mind.” – Chinese fortune cookie

Bumper sticker

“Words are alive; cut them and they bleed.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson, American poet.

My Corner, Your Corner

Tony Callaio

Tony Callaio’s column My Corner, Your Corner runs weekly in the Sunday Dispatch. He can be reached at

Tony Callaio’s column My Corner, Your Corner runs weekly in the Sunday Dispatch. He can be reached at

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