Linda Bates - From Heartbreak to Hope
Hospice care nurses are trained to support patients through their end-of-life journeys, but who helps them when they suffer a devastating personal loss of a loved one?
This week's story starts in a parking lot just down the road from the Cleveland branch of Hospice of Chattanooga. That's where Debby Nicholas has driven up to meet us from her home in Chickamauga.
Debby is anxious to honor her friend and colleague, Linda Bates.
"She (Linda) is a lady who started with me at Hospice of Chattanooga ten years ago. We've both been hospice nurses since that time and Linda's just had a great deal to go through, especially in the last couple of years."
Debby tells me that Linda is raising her 10-year-old grandson, Skyler.
"Skyler has cerebral palsy. She's had him since he was born and she's just done an amazing job with Skyler," Debby says.
Skyler's two younger brothers died tragically in the summer of 2012 when they were left in a hot car.
Before that terrible summer Linda lost another young grandson in a house fire.
Debby says, "With all the grief that she's been through of her own she still puts on that smile and goes in and takes care of her hospice patients and then, of course, Skyler looks so much like these little boys -- how in the world she manages to do it I just don't know."
"There's a group of us that are trying to start a campaign to buy him a wheelchair accessible van," Debby tells me.
That same group of co-workers has also been in on Linda's 'Pay it Forward' moment.
"They've got her somewhere in the office and I'm hoping we're going to be able to pull this off as a big surprise for her," Debby tells me excitedly.
The time has come to count out the cash and make our way inside the office where the nurses are holding a morning meeting.
Debby turns the corner, walks into the meeting room and asks, "Where is Linda Bates?"
Linda turns and says, "I'm right here!"
Linda stands as Debby says, "I nominated you for 'Pay it Forward' -- for what you do for Skyler -- for what you do for your patients every day. On behalf of the McMahan Law Firm and NewsChannel 9 hold out your little hand... $100, $200, $300, $400, $500. That is for you."
Linda is moved to tears when I ask her about Skyler.
"This week my husband said, 'What would we do without him?' He (Skyler) has brought so much light to our lives... "I'm awed everyday at the things he does, the things he says, the prayers he prays," Linda says.
Skyler wishes to see new places and to go where other children his age like to go, but transportation has been a challenge.
Linda tells me, "We definitely need something that we can just roll him up in and fasten him in and take him everywhere he wants to go."
Skyler has a mission he wants to share.
"He has a testimony, you know, the way God has brought us through from the Summer of 2012, when he lost his brothers, to now. And we've got a testimony that God can bring you through anything, and He will."
Click HERE if you'd like to learn how you can donate to the Skyler Mobile Account at Suntrust Bank to help the family purchase a handicap accessible van.
Click HERE to learn more about Skyler's Anti-Meth Fight campaign.
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