FLORENCE, S.C. — McLeod Health Foundation and McLeod Hospice will celebrate the 34th annual “A Light for Someone You Love” tree-lighting ceremony on Dec. 5. The ceremony will begin at 5:45 p.m. at the McLeod Regional Medical Center adjacent to the McLeod Center for Cancer Treatment and Research.
During the ceremony, the family of Charlotte Jones will light the trees in front of the hospital on behalf of all hospice families. Ashley Taylor will perform.
“McLeod Hospice embraces the care of patients with life-limiting illness as an essential part of its mission, values and commitment to the region,” stated an announcement from McLeod Hospice. “The program’s goal is to provide compassionate medical care, support patients and families, maintain dignity and enhance the patient’s quality of life.”
Charlotte Jones had a stroke on Aug. 3, 2018. She spent her last hours at McLeod Hospice. She died on Aug. 17.
Charlotte’s children who will be at the lighting ceremony are Dr. Webb Jones, Dr. Gregg Jones, Stewart Jones, Sterling Zalweski and Faith McMillan.
“We knew we were in her final days,” Webb said.
He said McLeod Hospice provided excellent care and made her comfortable, which was a great comfort to her children and grandchildren.
“We were given a great peace of mind that she was being taken care of,” he said.
“I stayed with Mama the whole time,” McMillan said.
The nurses were exceptional, she said. She mentioned several by name who were an integral part of their hospice experience.
“Josephine talked to Mama and sang hymns to her. She told her she loved her and that God loved her,” McMillan said. “The nurses were unbelievable.”
Lisa, another nurse, baked goods on her off-duty time, and she and her children brought them to the family, she said.
Peggy was another nurse who was helpful to their mother and the family.
“They were also there for us, too,” Zalweski said. She said it was as though they knew their need.
“They were preparing us for her last hours,” Webb said.
“My first experience with hospice,” Stewart said, “was a gentleman I worked for who didn’t have any family, except a child he never saw. He came here, and it was amazing to me how he was treated.”
He said his mother had five children and 12 grandchildren, two totally different ends of the spectrum, and yet, they were treated the same.
The skill level the staff demonstrated and the compassion was above the norm, he said.
“It takes a special person to do what they do,” he said.
Charlotte lived to be 91 years old.
She was a University of South Carolina cheerleader and was accepted into law school in 1948. She got married instead. She was married on Nov. 27, a Saturday after Thanksgiving, in 1948.
Gregg said his parents were married in Florence at Central United Methodist Church.
“Mother was devoted to her church,” Gregg said.
Asked to describe their mother, each had a special word or phrase.
Zalweski said she was “lovely and unique.”
“She would ‘light up a room,’” Webb said.
“She was the most giving person I’ve ever known,” Gregg said.
Stewart said she was “spunky,” and Faith said, “She was the best mother there ever was.”
She loved to play bridge and solitaire.
She was referred to as GranChar by her grandchildren and most all the children in the neighborhood.
Webb said his mother would have loved the ceremony coming up
“Our mother grew up in the depression,” he said. “She loved Christmas. It was a BIG deal in our house.”
“Our mother attended one of these services,” McMillan said. “I am sure she is up there nodding her head in approval.”
“She will like this,” Zalweski said.
Four of the siblings still live in Florence. Zalweski lives on Lake Murray, near Lexington.
Webb, the oldest, will give a speech at the tree lighting.
Lights are available with gifts to McLeod Hospice of $25 each. Sponsorships are also available for $1,000 in honor or memory of an individual. Gifts are tax-deductible.
If interested in a sponsorship, contact the McLeod Foundation.
“The Light for Someone You Love” program is sponsored by the McLeod Foundation to fund items needed for the McLeod Hospice House, to help patients remain comfortable in their homes, provide bereavement care for families being served as well as others in the community, and to offer a grief camp for children, Camp Jessie’s Kids.
For more information on the McLeod Hospice Tree Lighting Ceremony, call 843-777-2694. Gifts to the McLeod Hospice Tree Lighting can also be made by visiting mcleodfoundation.org.
The Hospice House is at 1203 E. Cheves St. in Florence.