Article by Nancy Johnston Hall; photo of Marlene Jones by Melissa Tomich.
Marlene is holding her husband Bob’s Memory Book and one of his award-winning carved ducks.
When pancreatic cancer struck at the Marlene and Bob Jones household, Fearrington Cares (FC) supported the Weathersfield couple during every step of their difficult journey. The Joneses, who moved to Fearrington Village from Florida in 2012, learned of Bob’s cancer diagnosis at the Duke Cancer Center in 2021. Marlene says that without Fearrington Cares, facing cancer would undoubtedly have been far harder for both of them.
Soon after Bob’s diagnosis, Marlene contacted FC’s now-retired director, Karen Metzguer. “She gave me advice all through the experience,” Marlene says. “I found her to be very wise.” Perhaps Karen’s most helpful advice was to suggest to Marlene and Bob that they contact hospice right away to have an informational interview and fill out paperwork before the service was needed. “So when no more treatments were available, all we had to do was make a phone call,” Marlene explains. Hospice then began immediately. All supplies and medications, including oxygen, were delivered to their door; a nurse was on call day and night. Medicare paid for everything hospice provided.
“The doctor told us that, with hospice, Bob would have better quality of life and less pain,” Marlene says. “I believe that hospice extended Bob’s life, and it definitely gave him a life with no suffering. He worked in his workshop as well as in his artist studio on his award-winning carved ducks every single day.”
Marlene is a Certified Leadership/Life Coach, helping people reach their goals in a time of change. Little did she know she would need those skills herself during the year of Bob’s illness and beyond. She attended several programs FC offered on end-of-life issues. She learned that although people’s experiences differ greatly, the common denominator of a successful experience is being savvy. Marlene also participated in FC’s Caregiver Support Group. “This was an amazing group of caring people, run professionally with humor and wisdom,” Marlene states. “This group saved my sanity and helped me feel not so alone with my challenges. They also helped me brainstorm ways to cope. I cannot say enough good things about them.”
After Bob died a little over a year ago, Marlene was able to meet several widows when Karen created the FC’s Women’s Bereavement Group. “Meeting other widows was incredibly important in my healing process. It meant so much to have these new friends who understood completely what I was going through,” Marlene recalls.
Through a successful tenure on FC’s Education Committee, Marlene contributed in return to the organization. “Planning sessions led to my making new friends, having new experiences, and increasing my understanding of my health and life in retirement,” she notes. After contracting three separate tick-borne diseases, Marlene spearheaded several programs on ticks. “I became known as The Tick Lady!” she laughs. She also planned programs on sleep and on aging in place versus living in a Continuing Care Retirement Community.
The single most valuable gift that FC gave the Jones family was time. Through a discussion in the Caregiver Support Group, Marlene came up with the idea of a Memory Book. Many friends and family members wrote letters to Bob, which she put in the book. “He was able to read them all before he died,” Marlene says. “We had a lot of time to say goodbye.”