A celebration of life

Four years ago, Nicki Snodderly, AS, database specialist, Parkview Heart Institute, introduced the Remembrance Tree event to Parkview.

“I was inspired to hold something like this when my mom passed away,” Nicki shared. “She died at 54 from a rare lung disease. She was a decorated RN of 32 years at Adams Memorial Hospital, and a graduate of the Parkview School of Nursing in 1975. She graduated in the top 10 of her class and has trained/worked with many of the nurses at Parkview today.”

On December 20, Nicki and team put a Christmas tree on display in the Parkview Heart Institute lobby and invited those who wished to honor a deceased friend or family member to come and place an ornament with their loved one’s name on the tree’s branches. Guests enjoyed the sounds of several local choirs, including the Parkview Singers, treats and support from Parkview staff. “Through this event, I hope to bring some peace to families. The holiday season is always the hardest. I wanted to do something that would bring people together, recognize their loved ones and offer a way to celebrate them even though they can’t be here.”

This event is open to anyone who has ever suffered a loss and has dealt with the hurt of not having a loved one around during the holidays. “The tree is to celebrate the life that their loved one lived. When you visit the tree, you never know who you might cross paths with. It may be the person who had the exact words of encouragement you needed. You may form a new relationship with a total stranger who has gone through the battle of loss, just like you did. You might be the person that shed a little light on someone who really needed it at that time. Christmas is a time of giving. If taking a few minutes to visit the tree, and maybe exchange a few words with someone, will give them peace to get through the next day, then you have given the best gift one can give. Mending a broken heart is going above and beyond excellent service at Parkview.”

Taylor’s tree

This year, the Parkview Remembrance Tree was dedicated to a very special coworker. On June 29, Tina Linker, director, Parkview Heart Institute, lost her daughter, Taylor, in a tragic car accident. Taylor was just shy of her 28th birthday, and left behind a 5-year-old and a 10-month-old.

“My boss, Mike GeRue, [SVP/COO and service line leader, Parkview Heart Institute], sent me a meeting invite. We were talking and he suggested we go down and get a coffee,” Tina said. “I saw all of the activity and remembered the bulb signing, and Mike looked at me and said, ‘Go on up there. This is for you.’”

Tina was joined by her husband, Jason, and, with tears in her eyes, walked forward to place an ornament that read “Taylor’s Tree” on a branch near the center. With arms around her, the children’s choir began to sing.

“Parkview is a hospital,” she later shared, “but it’s also a family. I didn’t make a meal from the day Taylor died in June until September. That was all my coworkers. Everyone came to her funeral, and it was so humbling to feel the love that was shared.”

These days, Tina is finding her footing again, with a little help from her grandson, Chase. “We took him to see Santa, and all he asked for was a bouquet of pink roses to take to his mommy’s grave. I didn’t really want to do anything Christmas this year, because I always did those things with her. And the saddest part is the thought of making new memories without Taylor. But there will be a bouquet of pink roses under the tree this year.”

Taylor’s beautiful crimson ornament, in a nest of evergreen and white twinkle lights, is one tradition that could bring healing. “This makes me believe she won’t be forgotten.”

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