On January 6th, my mom passed away at the Palisades Nursing Home in Garretson, SD. This left my dad, alone for the first time in 61 years. We visited him often from Sioux Falls but the staff really went above and beyond in their care of him.
One person that cared for him in Garretson was Tara Baker. Tara took the time to sit down and listen to my dad, really get to know him and develop a special bond.
In February, we decided to move my dad to Southridge in Sioux Falls so we could be closer to him. He really missed the nurses in Garretson as they were so good to him.
On Thursday the 2nd, I received a call that my dad was not doing well and that he was being sent to the ER. Once at the ER it was discovered that he suffered a stroke on his good side (having suffered one 10 years ago) and that his prognosis was not good. It was and is an extremely difficult time for my family.
On 7/3 around 10pm at night- I got a strange feeling that I should go see my dad up on the 6th floor where he was basically being kept comfortable on his way to passing. So my kids and I went to see my dad/their grandfather.
When we turned the corner to his floor, we saw a familiar face smiling and walking quickly towards us. Tara Baker. She immediately came and gave all of us big hugs. She pulled me aside and said she was so happy she could care for my dad because she loved him from her time in Garretson. I broke down in tears. To have someone that knew my dad and appreciated him as a human being made all the difference in the world to me. The kids and I left feeling a strange peace that Grandpa was being well taken care of.
On 7/5 around 5am, I received a phone call from Tara stating that my dad was not doing well and he may pass away soon. I rushed to the hospital where I found Tara sitting with my dad. She was stroking his hand and telling him that I would be there soon. This brought a tear to my eye. I sat with my dad until his final breath. My Superman was now gone. Tara came in and verified time of death. Rather than start working on what I can imagine is quite a list of responsibilities, her only concern was me. She gave me a big hug and was crying as well. She stated how much she enjoyed my dad and spending time getting to know him. I thanked her over and over for being someone that genuinely cared about and for my dad. She stayed with me insuring I was okay until I left the hospital.
I drove home extremely distraught about losing my dad but also with a sense of calm that Tara had cared for him the past 3 days. I knew he was in perfect hands.
Tara Baker is a difference maker. She made a difference in my dad's life in Garretson and she was there to care for him when it was time to go. She made a difference in my life by being there for me, my wife and my children during what was probably the most difficult three days of my life.
I cannot stress enough how much Tara Baker went above and beyond a normal call of duty. And for that I will always be forever grateful to her.