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Donor Stories
Nancy Delaney

Nancy Delaney

It takes a special place and special people to provide care like that.
My hope is to remain as devoted to Calvary as Calvary was to my Mom.

What are some of your favorite memories of your Mom, Dorothy?

My mother had a wonderful sense of humor, and she loved to laugh, which she passed down to her children. She also loved to dance. Unfortunately, my father was a terrible dancer, but their relationship is a true love story.

They grew up in the same Borough Park neighborhood in Brooklyn. Before they met, my father served in the Air Force in World War II and received the Distinguished Flying Cross. On occasion, my mother would see his mother in the neighborhood and chat and ask if she had heard anything about her son. His mother would say, “I haven’t heard anything,” and my mother would reassure her, “No news is good news!”

After my father returned from the war, he reconnected with his friends. One day he was on the street talking to friends near the local ice cream parlor, Bliss. My Mom walked past him, and their eyes locked, but he didn’t approach her. Afterward, he asked Mrs. Bliss about her, and she arranged a meeting. They met several days later, and within three months they were engaged. They were married in 1948.

How was your childhood?

I grew up in a happy home, and we lived in a neighborhood filled with kids, so there were many great memories. My Mom stayed home and took care of the house and the four of us.
She was always available, both emotionally and physically.

After my father served in the war, he became a New York City police officer. Although his hours were long, he always managed to spend time with us. After 38 years, he retired as a sergeant in charge of a squad of detectives in Brooklyn. He was a wonderful father, and I have many happy memories.

Sadly, my father passed away suddenly in 1995.

At that time, my parents were living on Staten Island. We were concerned about Mom, and both daughters invited her to live with them, but she refused. She was fiercely independent.

My youngest brother lived nearby and checked in on her often. My other brother would check on her as well and take her out to dinner. In addition, my sister and I were with her on the weekends for shopping and errands.

What were Dorothy’s favorite hobbies?

Her favorite hobbies were dancing and reading as well as taking care of the Irish Setters. We were on our fourth one when my Dad died. Mom and Dad took great care of those dogs, but the last one grew very close to my Mom. As time progressed and she wasn’t as agile, when Murphy wanted to go out in the morning, he would put his face on her bed and gently shake it to wake her up. He was great company for her.

When did your Mom become sick?

In early April of 2013, Mom fell and had to have hip surgery at Lenox Hill Hospital. She was recovering well until the second post-op day when she suffered a massive stroke. They transferred her to the ICU and intubated her. She stayed in intensive care for a week, and they extubated her when she was breathing independently. Unfortunately, she was not able to speak to us again.

I worked as a nurse for many years at Saint Vincent’s hospital, and the doctor caring for my Mom was also from St. Vincent’s. The hospital wanted to discharge her and told us she would need 24-hour care. When I asked the social workers about Calvary Hospital, they initially advised that Mom would not be a candidate because she did not have a terminal disease. Her doctor and I talked to Patricia M. Caffrey the Nurse Administrator at Calvary’s Brooklyn campus (also a nurse from St Vincent’s), who told me my mother would qualify for care. They transferred Mom to Calvary in Brooklyn, and it was perfect. The Brooklyn campus is in a central location, so it was easier for all of us to visit daily.

How important was her faith?

Her faith was everything to her. She grew up in a devout Catholic family. The spiritual guidance that was a constant thread at Calvary was a source of joy and comfort. Even though my mother couldn’t respond, I knew the daily visits from the nuns and the priests resonated with her. When my niece’s now-husband shared with one of the sisters that he would ask my niece to marry him, Sister advised him to ask Mom for her blessing. And he did.

What was your Mom’s moral legacy?

Her faith and love for her family meant everything. Although it was challenging to see Mom failing, Calvary gave us all an opportunity to talk with her, talk with her, and say goodbye. My son (her grandson) was only 14 then and graduating from the 8th grade. My mother always loved when he played the piano for her. He recorded himself playing a piece, “Ode to the Angels,” and then played the recording for her during his last visit. She passed away that evening.

Why do you continue to contribute to Calvary Hospital?

I am moved by Calvary’s mission, “Where life continues.” Before virtually anyone else did, Calvary saw the pressing need to provide care to those for whom aggressive treatment and a cure were no longer an option. Calvary created a place where the patient could be treated as a person, be with their families and friends without limitation. Their favorite things in life – whether it be music or a cocktail – are available. I admired the work and supported it. But it was not until my mother’s illness that I was able to see it in action.

On the first day my Mom arrived, they provided compassionate care. The medical staff, nurses, assistants, and pastoral staff were all attuned to the needs of both Mom and our family. It became a place where we could still laugh and cry with Mom and each other. They adorned the room with flowers, and we sometimes took Mom across the hall for concerts, especially when it was the big band music she so loved. We had family meetings with the staff, who taught us about Mom’s changing physical needs and kept us prepared and informed. Although the four of us coordinated morning-to-night visiting coverage, we never worried that Mom would be alone. Not at Calvary.

It takes an exceptional place with special people to provide the best care. I hope to remain as devoted to Calvary as Calvary was to my Mom.