Family First at the Beginning, End and Always
We remember a steadfast supporter of the Life Matters Media family, Jean Cece, who died Friday, February 10th surrounded by her family. She was 72.
Jean died as she had hoped, while receiving hospice care at home. Her death was peaceful, beautiful and healing to those who loved her.
“Anybody who knew her knew that she was truly the kindest person – she never had a bad word to say about anyone,” said her daughter, Celeste Gallati, a founding LMM board member.
Celeste remembers her mother as a friend to everyone. “She was the person always offering to take someone to their doctor appointment, or go to the grocery store for them. Everything was about her family and everyone else.”
Jean died from complications associated with vascular dementia, a condition which made communication difficult in her final years. However, her family worked together to provide the best care possible, always emphasizing Jean’s comfort.
“It’s so hard with dementia because you start off okay, and then, the decline happens,” Celeste said. “A couple of years ago, she was not talking, but she was still able to be at home and to eat. We had a little bit of caregiving services, but my dad was the primary caregiver.”
Jean experienced a significant decline after Christmas. Unfortunately, she was not able to fully articulate every care wish.
“She saw that we were all there. She was able to pass because we were there as a family.”
“It took us off guard,” Celeste said. “It was a real lesson for our family and one of my motivations for Life Matters Media. As a family, we had to talk about what we believed her wishes would have been, and I think my dad did a great job of ultimately executing her wishes. There was a constant reminder of the need for having these conversations early.”
Celeste said time “just slips away” for people facing dementia, making the need to discuss care preferences much more urgent.
Jean’s family is most thankful for JourneyCare’s hospice program.
“It made such a difference,” Celeste said. “The overall dementia experience had a lot of hard times, and it was difficult. But, bringing hospice in was like Superman coming in. The nurse set up a ‘command center’ in my parents’ condo. There was immediately a sense of calm and peace.”
Hospice care is designed to provide comfort to terminally ill patients in their final days.
“We could finally be there for her without having to worry about her,” Celeste said. “It was amazingly unifying for our family. We were able to share memories and grief.”
Celeste said it was always clear what her mother wanted most: a fully unified family.
Jean got her wish.
“When she got sick, one of the things she said was, ‘all I care about in the end is that everybody gets along, and that we stay together as a family,'” Celeste said. “She saw that we were all there. She was able to pass because we were there as a family.”
Jean Marie Cece, 72, was the beloved wife of Vito and loving mother of Celeste (Reto) Gallati and Andrew Cece. She was a dear sister to Carolyn (Chuck) Skibo, Diane (Jack) Ernst, Kathleen (Dale) Olsen, Michael Grant and Sharon (John) Glees. She was the cherished aunt of six nieces and nephews.
In lieu of flowers, memorials to Life Matters Media or JourneyCare Hospice are appreciated.