This year was different in many ways. Personally, I remember being in high school three decades ago and stopping by Klondike Manor as a volunteer on a Thanksgiving holiday just to make sure no one was alone on that painful day for our elders. But now my kids really have this down.
First, they were up early making homemade cards led by Jackie, my creative daughter. She developed an assembly card production system with Luke drawing a pretty rough turkey, Ava telling them she loved them in pencil, our au pair, Victor, adding standard greetings, and me adding pictures of crosses and football pictures – these were no masterpieces, but we made a hundred in a few hours and off we went.
The entire Steier entourage headed to the newly renovated Signature of Palm Beach and the kids did not complain, actually telling me they enjoy “the Steier family service days.” But this year the place was in real harmony…
Ann is always the best greeter ever. We donated some cash to a resident hosting a fundraiser for the Philippines victims at the front door, and the kids wanted to meet the Catholic priest named Terrence the full time chaplain who had just packed the 10:30 service on the rare Hanukkah-Thanksgiving combo labeled “Thanksgiving-kkah.” We witnessed an amazing holiday feast going on down the hall packed with three to four generations at most tables eating away, smiling stakeholders giving me great feedback on this leader named Nancy as we went room to room, and at a least three dozen residents in the Excelerated Care program who wanted to tell me how great our Signature Rehab therapists are, and that they planned to be home in a few weeks. They seemed grateful.
There was a brain-injured resident last year on this same day, in the exact same patient room, that cussed my daughter out, telling her to keep the cards and leave her alone. But this year Jackie went right in and she smiled ear to ear. That seemed to make Jackie really understand what our clinical teams must go through in terms of high and lows.
We hung out with our dear friend Richard (last year’s featured story), the best fighter since Ali who is still going and has MS on the ropes. We met Swedish residents who seemed Holy Spirit led and hugged every resident who would accept one. We talked with two residents over 100 years old who looked better than a few of my high school friends, telling the kids clean living was the key. Our au pair, Victor, almost found an American wife upstairs, and we prayed over a few who were in painful sleeps. But my kids noticed something special was happening at Signature of Palm Beach!
My oldest son, Joseph, commented, “Dad, that was an amazing place, people seemed so happy and engaged, that was OK.”
This is what every great Signature HealthCARE center should feel like, and no matter what ObamaCare brings, our compassionate teamwork, diligent trained clinicians, one-of-a-kind spirituality pillar and creative quality of life programming will always be needed, no matter what healthcare policy is enacted.
Thanks to the entire SHC of Palm Beach team for a great day and powerful visit!
Prior to COVID, I think we all felt like we spent more time with work, work partners and peers than our own families. Was it good or bad? For me, I worked with some of the most talented people in the country, so I loved it. And obviously I love my family too! I had the blessing to work with a friend, brother, Savant, Mensa member, and so much more for nearly a decade and a half – Stephen Stocksdale. To say he was talented with an amazing range is honestly a great understatement in a world full of the opposite. Stephen did so much intellectually, professionally, and personally that for the first three years of working with him, I assumed it “all could not be true”. But time and time again I learned the opposite was true. He served our mission-based organization in every role (field leader, controller, administrator, VP, strategy, consultant, start-ups, etc.) and whatever else we asked of him. Despite having more professional success himself, he just wanted to help us grow in all ways.
One day 5 ½ years ago, Stephen was diagnosed with terminal cancer, and we grieved with him as you would expect. But he was a determined guy and decided to not just learn all he could about cancer, but to master it. He decided there had to be a path he could carve out for himself that no doctor had considered, or he would locate new research that would help him beat it. With a scientific mind and unparalleled IQ, he found a clinical trial he was approved to get in. This trial’s treatment regimen was so potent, and Stephen was the only one that survived. He learned about transfusions, blood structures, and cancer interventions. Cancer kicked his ass often, but he always beat it back up and won again!
We cheered, prayed, and cried often over the past years, but learned three great lessons from Stephen that we all cherish today:
- “Be a Lifelong Learner” because we can always master new things and age is just a number, but lifelong learners never get old. Stephen mastered EMT services, police work, cancer research, hospital administration, heart transplant programs, high level statistical methods, travel, long term care, teaching, and many other degrees, certifications, and accomplishments over 65 years, so let’s all keep Learning and keep growing!
- “Never Give Up” because we grow everyone around us in our struggles and sufferings in ways that impact everyone around us and Stephen knew that and wanted us to get stronger, be more grateful and relearn presence, which we all did! When he came back home, he rarely missed a day at the office and taught all of us new things daily up until the moment he passed last week.
- “GOD IS SO REAL” Stephen had historical expertise on religions, studied theological premises, and had a metaphysical outlook, but in this battle, he felt like he met the Lord and had to share it with all of us. He knew he beat something that is nearly unbeatable, and he wanted time to share his story, his walk, and his private time with the Lord. He watched prayer groups with people he barely knew praying 24/7 that he receives a miracle, and he did receive one that he could share with all of us.
Our organization is going through a very painful time as a mid-size nursing home organization that has stakeholders who worked under unbelievable stress and pressure for so long and had to endure seeing some of our residents pass away. We have lost half of our team, and we are still trying to rebuild stronger and better. I think after serving through the pandemic for 2 ½ years and struggling with how to bring it all back together in this changing workplace and overworked healthcare system, and after suffering so much pulsating unknowns for so long, it was Stephen who gave us the best reason to not look back. He taught us to enjoy the struggle as something that can deepen us all and stay prayerful that God is with us during times like these. We need to rebuild and have new passion as learners, which Stephen demonstrated everyday making our lift just a little easier. And lastly, when you beat cancer four times and die from something else, how could we ever give up? It’s time for us to just “STOCKSDALE IT” and grow by learning, fighting harder and believing in our purpose!
Stephen’s office will remain untouched for now because when he left work on Monday with his ambitious assignments on his wall, we never knew we would not see him again. However, we can certainly feel his presence and we are all better people for his amazing lessons that he taught us until his last hour!