“If you ever need hospice, you couldn’t ask for a better friend.”
The love story of Bernie and Betty Fowler began over seventy years ago. When she was a young girl living in Washington DC, Betty’s parents enjoyed coming to Broomes Island, where they would go fishing on the weekends. It was there that she met a young entrepreneur with a boat rental business called “Bernie’s Boats.” Bernie enjoys telling the story of a beautiful young teenager stepping out of her parents’ Oldsmobile, “I am telling you, it was love at first sight… I was swept away by her.” They married one year later and went on to build a home on Broomes Island where they raised a family and Bernie began his career in politics. Betty was always by his side. After many years together, it was easy to see they were still enamored with each other. In May of 2018, Betty was diagnosed with stage four pancreatic cancer. She and her doctor decided it was best not to pursue treatment. At 85 years of age, Betty’s wish was to go home and be with her family. By choosing to come into hospice within a week of her diagnosis, she could spend more quality time with those she loved. With four children, eight grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren, not a day went by without family members by her side. When a family’s world is turned upside down by a devastating diagnosis, Calvert Hospice is there to assist them in coping with their “new normal.” When you make a donation to our organization you are not only helping us provide quality end-of-life care for our patients, you are ensuring that their families will have the professional support they need as they face the challenges that lie ahead. Bernie is thankful to his children and grandchildren for being there to help care for her so that Betty could remain at home. The Fowler family credits Betty’s hospice team for always making sure that Betty had what she needed. Bernie also said how wonderful Betty’s home health aide was and how she “provided perpetual care.” The Fowlers have always been passionate about supporting Calvert Hospice. Bernie served on the Board of Directors for seven years, back when it was a relatively new organization. Bernie says he “felt it was important to build support for one of the greatest organizations we have.” Calvert Hospice has come a long way in the last 35 years, but it is still a small, independent nonprofit. Betty’s time in hospice illustrates what we mean by making the most of every moment. The family arranged for a lovely celebration of the couple’s 69th wedding anniversary. On that September day, twenty-eight members of the Fowler family gathered in the living room and witnessed Bernie and Betty renew their wedding vows. Betty had asked their grandson, Ryan Forrester, a talented musician and songwriter, to play for her. Ryan and his good friend, John Luskey, provided the music as the family celebrated this very special occasion. Bernie and his grandsons joined in singing their favorite gospel hymns. Betty sat in her chair clapping to the beat with a big smile on her face. This extraordinary day was just as Betty wanted – to be at home with her family, celebrating the love and life that they had built. In November, Betty’s health was declining rapidly, yet she never complained. A devout Christian, Betty had told her family that she was ready to be with her Lord and Savior. When she laid unresponsive for four days, Bernie knew her time was near. With tears in his eyes, Bernie recalls his beloved’s final moments. “I put my arm under her head, kissed her, told her I loved her and said, let me see that beautiful smile one more time.” With that, she smiled for him as she peacefully passed away. After Betty’s passing, Bernie was grateful to be able to spend time with Tessa, one of the bereavement counselors at Calvert Hospice, to help him cope without the love of his life. He loves his family deeply and they continue to support each other, but it is hard for him to imagine not being with someone who was constantly by his side, every step of the way, for over 70 years. Bernie wants the community to know that Calvert Hospice has been a blessing in his life and asks everyone to “please commit, even if it’s a small amount, because if you ever need hospice, you couldn’t ask for a better friend."