Finding himself out of work at a time when most people his age had been long retired, Mack Kennedy asked himself a question.
“The doctor told me I couldn’t do that kind of work anymore, and then the cotton gin closed,” Kennedy said. “I’d been off work for about two weeks and got up one morning and asked myself, ‘Why did you get up this morning? You don’t have anything to do.’”
Just a few months prior to Kennedy losing the job he’d had for over 40 years, he lost his wife, Alice, who battled progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP) for several years.
He recalled seeing an ad in the local newspaper seeking hospice volunteers and replied.
“And I’ve been here ever since,” Kennedy said.
Oddly enough, Kennedy met his wife when he was a patient at an area hospital. He was in a room at the end of a hall near the parking lot.
“I told the doctor I’d seen this attractive young woman coming to work and he asked me if I’d like to meet her,” Kennedy said.
Their courtship was quick – three months – before they married and raised four children. After more than 40 years of marriage, Kennedy said his wife’s health began to decline. Doctors first said she had Alzheimer’s and later Parkinson’s. The Kennedy’s consulted a specialist in Houston who diagnosed PSP, whose symptoms are commonly mistaken for the other diseases.
“The thing about PSP is that, like with Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, over time the victims get worse and worse,” Kennedy said.
When it became apparent she needed medical supervision, Kennedy sought hospice treatment. She was a patient with another agency prior to Premier’s founding in 2005.
“As soon as I found out about a local agency, I called,” Kennedy said. “By then they had a waiting list and we got on it.”
It wasn’t long, Kennedy said, before Premier was able to take he and Alice into the program.
“I’ve known (Premier medical director) Dr. Robert Lyon for 29 years and known (Premier co-
Kennedy assists with office work and patient transportation at Premier five days a week. Though he doesn’t force it on them, he says he has occasionally shared his Premier experience with other patients and their families.
“I told them what good care they took of Alice,” Kennedy said. “I’d tell that to anyone.”