After open-heart surgery, John Antolik moved into the home of his daughter Josephine Rickert and her family. For four years, Josephine cared for her father as his health declined.
“I didn’t know where to turn,” she remembered. “My family was helping me, but I couldn’t do it on my own anymore.” A friend suggested she call Samaritan – and a team was there to support Josephine the next day. Samaritan tended to John while he was in a rehab facility, and stayed with him when he came home for hospice care.
After serving as his primary caregiver for years, Josephine didn’t think anyone could care for her father the way she did. “I became very protective of him,” Josephine says. “But Samaritan was amazing. They went to such lengths for his care, and always helped maintain his dignity. I could count on them for everything.”
Toward the end of John’s life, Samaritan prepared Josephine and her family for the loss. The day he passed, “the hospice nurse placed a blue clay heart in my father’s hand, then placed my hand over it,” Josephine says. “It was beautiful. I’ve always kept that heart with me.”
The clay heart was so special to Josephine’s family, when her son and his fiancée began planning their wedding, they asked to borrow the heart as the bride’s “something blue.” But when Josephine realized the heart was worn from weeks carried in her purse, panic set in.
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“I called Samaritan, and I swear they put an APB out for another blue heart,” Josephine laughs. “Within two weeks, I received a pretty blue box in the mail, and inside was a blue clay heart. They had even included a pin to attach it to my daughter-in-law’s wedding dress.”
Josephine says she was grateful for the peace of mind Samaritan provided – both in providing comfort for her father and in their compassion for her family. “They were there for the dying, and for the living people too,” she says.
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