A Compassionate Birthing at Hospice Care


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Lighthouse Hospice Courtyard

Lighthouse Hospice Courtyard

The doorway grudgingly releases her bed
Pulled into the shade of an October day
The soulscaper calls it Chamber of Commerce weather
The pathfinder leads on

Now I’m aware of 150-year Live Oaks
Guarding the courtyard in solemn respect
Bark of steel once shielded Old Ironsides from enemy fire
Cannonballs could not destroy
Do they feel what passes through this place?

The shade is a world apart from the Texas sun
The Cackle Birds continue their happy-hour conversations
Squirrels jump and rest
Acorns lose their grip and submit to fall

Nearby workers move construction machines
The rumbling, earth-shaking, rolling compactors
Preparing for the new but impermanent
These too will tumble in time
The persistent backing beeps without rhythm
The train says enough! and covers the noise with noise

Now I’m aware we have moved while still
The sun rests on her forehead
We roll a few inches to the shade

The pathfinder shows us the clearing ahead
The destination is near
Rally here, rally here

A sudden swarm of activity
Prayers prayed, songs played and promises made
Last calls coming one way

Inhale to signal life has begun
Exhale to say goodbye
Tears wash the long road to healing
Hugs say we will travel together

The soulscaper knows we stiff-arm the end
Lower the shield of unfinished business he says
Don’t anticipate the pain
Draw death closer and its power fades

Mom went to hospice care on Tuesday, October 11th and checked out for Heaven on Friday, October 14th at about 12:45 p.m..  The staff at Lighthouse Hospice in Round Rock, Texas was fantastic during the few days mom spent there.  We especially want to thank Chaplain Dub (the soulscaper) who provided great comfort and spiritual guidance.  Special thanks to nurse Julie (our pathfinder) who was our guide on the last day and helped mom as she took her last breaths.  I have a deep respect and admiration for hospice care and the caregivers who provide a compassionate birthing into eternal life.  My wish is that your loved ones can make their transition in as dignified and comfortable way as our mother did.

Family at Lighthouse Hospice Courtyard

Family left at Lighthouse Hospice Courtyard


a letter to my mom at christmas

Hey mom

All of the Christmas decoration boxes have been gone through and things are put up. I think you would like the way I decorated the house with a combination of my things and your things. I found the Christmas angel and she is now atop the tree. I cannot believe all the things you kept and it was so neat to find different things from when we were kids and reminisce and enjoy them again. I know you really enjoyed Christmas so I am trying to do what would make you happy. I was really looking forward to going to church service with you Christmas eve and I know you will be with me in spirit.

I really miss you every day and wish that we would have made the decision to have you come out here sooner but it just did not work out that way. I am happy to have had the time we had and will always cherish that time. I am glad that Jessica got to spend some time with her grandmother and get to know you better. I know she is glad of that too. I was very unsure about asking you to make the transition to living here but I just wanted to give you a sense of a home and a yard and give sophie a yard and some friends. I know my situation is a little chaotic but you accepted it with open arms and never complained. I am glad I got to be there for you even if it was tough sometimes. We both tried to make light of the situations that were thrown at us and I think we did pretty darn good.

Mike told me that the happiest he had ever seen you was the day before Brian and I got there to bring you home and that makes me soooo happy to know that. Thank you for giving us a little bit of time to be together. You and I were torn apart and that hurt but I think we fixed that and I just wish that we would have had more time to do the things we talked about like driving to see the wildflowers in the spring and going to Fredericksburg for peaches in the summer and especially going to the ocean. We talked about going down when they release the baby sea turtles and I will go for both of us. I know that you will be there with me.

Every day that I take the dogs for walks I know that you are there with us watching over us and watching over Sohie. I am trying to take the best care of her that I can and do right by you and I think she is happy.

Thank you for telling me that you were glad you made the decision to move here. That meant the world to me. You were never a burden to me and we would have figured everything out, it just takes time.

If there is anything that I can take from all of this and thank you for is bringing my family back together. I missed my brothers and we were so torn apart that I did not honestly think we could ever fix it but you being the great mom you were brought us back together and I thank you and love you so much for doing that.

My heart hurts for missing you and I wish there were things I could change but I know that I cannot so I will take what I have had and be blessed with that. I will take you with me to places that I go and I will share them with you. I just know that you are happy and healthy now and smiling down on all three of us and that you will help us along the way when we need it and be happy for us when we don’t.

I also know that you are in heaven taking care of any of my foster dogs or my own dogs that leave this earth and I feel great knowing that they will have you to watch over them until I get there someday.

Give everyone a hug for me and keep smiling down on us.

I love you so much and miss you so much

Have a Merry and wonderful Christmas.

Your daughter.

The Last Embrace


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Cluster images fill our family photographs.  Mom and her kids gathered around a birthday cake.  Our family huddled around the Christmas tree.  Her three little ghosts in homemade costumes for Halloween.

Mom brought her kids together.  She gathered us in the apron of her love from the miracle of each child’s birth through all the events of our lives.  She pulled us close to fill the pages of our story.  The still images give silent testimony of her desire and her ability to draw us together.

Mom gathers her kids

Mom holding her kids

Time passed and we developed the capacity to fly away.  One by one we left home to start our own lives.  The miles between us faded our connection as brothers and sister.  Disagreements between her children were like water poured down a hill.  She couldn’t know the path it would take but hoped for limited relationship erosion.  In the last year of her life the heavy lifting of health care stretched the tie between her kids nearly to the breaking point.

We came together during the last days of mom’s life in hospice care.  We sat around her bed one night and played Plinky Prompts.  The ice breaker answers were a glimpse into parts of our life she couldn’t have known.  The laughter we shared with each other must have been sweet harmony for her heart.  She couldn’t speak and had closed her eyes for the last time days earlier but I’m certain mom smiled inside.  She is gone from our sight but we still feel her last embrace.

Keeper of the Memories


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Margaret as a teenager at her family home in Barton, Wisconsin

One of the most difficult parts of dusting off from the departure of a loved one is the reminder from the physical remnants collected over a lifetime.  Now that mom has moved on those left spend time sorting through boxes of things.

Mom was very good at cataloging her life and the lives of those around her.  Many of the family photos have handwritten notes with a brief description of the event.  We are thankful because they bring into clear focus an otherwise blurry moment in time.  People we vaguely remember now have their identity restored.

I found a handwritten envelope decorated with a child’s impressionist drawing of flowers given to her with love on an undated Mother’s Day.  Inside were three unused coupons. The gift of self that kids sometimes give to their parents out of economic necessity.

Unused Mother's Day coupons

I’m not sure if she used the other coupons or held them all to redeem later.  I do know these and other mile markers of her life were important to her.  They have now been re-gifted in a way.  Mom valued life, loved those around her and cared deeply for us in many ways.  Her treasures keep the door of her life open.

Farewell Mom, So Long Friend



Margaret E Shelton
February 1944 – October 2011

Margaret E Shelton

A Beautiful Lady

We celebrate a life well lived and bid farewell to a loving mother and friend. Margaret Shelton (Roell) left Round Rock, Texas and was welcomed into heaven with a glad shout on October 14th, 2011.  A believer in the Creator God she held onto the promise of eternal life like a sure and firm anchor for her soul.  A memorial service is planned for spring 2012 at the ocean she wanted to see.

Read more about Margaret in her biography.  Learn more about her love of dogs at the memorial donation information page.

Please leave a message in the guest book with your thoughts, prayers and memories of Margaret for other guests to enjoy.