Volunteer Dick Rush Wraps up 13 Years of Supporting Patients
Dick Rush forged bonds with more than 30 patients during his 13 years as a Pathways volunteer.
One patient in particular stands out.
“One of my hospice patients was an operatic tenor, and we grew very close during the few months that I worked with him,” Dick recalled. “My wife and I just listened to a record that he made when he was a voice instructor at the University of Maryland and his wife was an accompanist.”
The memories of his patients are ever present for Dick. “These memories will be with me until I move on,” he says.
This month, Dick ended his 13-year tenure as a Pathways volunteer. During that time, he was a companion to 33 male patients.
Dick, who will turn 88 in April, decided it was time to reduce his community involvement to spend more time reading, visiting with friends and family, and hiking and gardening with his wife Carol.
Born in Ohio, Dick grew up in southern California, and served in the Navy from 1956-1960. He taught high school in California and then moved to Colorado 52 years ago. He taught in Loveland schools for 22 years, until he retired in 1991.
In addition to Pathways, Dick has served as a restorative justice and teen court facilitator, a tutor for adult learners, and has volunteered with the U.S. Forest Service, the Loveland Snow Squad and the United Nations Association.
A ‘wonderful enlightenment’
Dick calls his time with Pathways a “wonderful enlightenment,” filled with enriching experiences. As a seasoned volunteer, he was asked to describe the experience for volunteer training. This is what he has shared:
“I had 33 companions, all men. These men were all over the place in terms of their life experiences and the kind of people they were. I learned so much about different kinds of people, that I otherwise wouldn’t have had the opportunity to meet.”
“The men I worked with were dying. They did not hold back. They told me their ideas of what it means to die. This deepened my experience of what life is about.”
“The men I worked with showed incredible courage. They accepted the fact that they were dying, and so did their families. I was touched by how accepting they were of their situation and of their pathway.”
“Every single patient was different. Day one was not day two. You never knew when you went to see a patient what you would encounter. Each person was different on different occasions.”
Dick also tells new volunteers, “Prepare to grow. This is a life-changing experience, and you will grow from it and learn from it.”
Doing this challenging work for an organization like Pathways made things easier, Dick says. “The support was amazing. Pathways has a wonderful community reputation, and if you told someone you were working with Pathways, they smiled. That really helped.”
Thank you, Dick, from the bottom of our hearts, for your service. Your dedication won’t be forgotten.