Hospice Sends Angels With Music To Homebound

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Juanita Packer welcomed hospice "angels" Melissa Motola, and Lois Atkin into her home, settling down on her couch with her dog "Little Bit" to listen to their music.

"When I met Lois, boy she went to bat for me," said Packer, calling Atkin her "guardian angel" and someone who made certain she was warm and safe in her home and able to walk outside.

For the last few days, the two RTA Hospice and Palliative Care employees Atkin, the social worker, and Motola, a bereavement educator, have been playing Christmas carols and songs for homebound hospice patients, Motola said as she set up her sheet music.

"We've been having a ball and the patients love it," said violinist Atkin. "Sometimes (our music) makes them cry."

After the duo first played the haunting "Ashokan Farewell" from the PBS special on the Civil War, Atkin said she thought, ‘We are supposed to be bringing happiness. This is not good.'

"So then I have to go into my comedy routine to bring them out of it -- a few doctor jokes and such," she said. She and Packer shared a laugh at that, even before the jokes.

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RTA Hospice client Juanita Packer expresses her pleasure with the visit and music by Melissa Motola and Lois Atkin. Pictured with Packer is her dog, Little Bit. "She saved my life and I saved hers," Juanita Packer said of the lap dog she rescued from a Valley animal shelter.

The duo started out as a trio just a couple weeks ago at the annual Celebration of Life tree lighting event at Hospice house. Lorna Hansen, patient care administrator, played the piano.

"We couldn't very well lug a piano around," joked Atkin.

Motola plays her guitar sings "Amazing Grace" as the act's finale because she said, "It's one song that every family somehow, some way has a relationship to ... I used music a lot in bereavement and as a CNA."

A few tunes from the 1940s may be in next year's repertoire.

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