Margaret Beckham

It is one thing to know something with your head, but to experience it with your heart gives you a new perspective. That was the journey for Jeffrey Fulgham as his family went through the illness and loss of his mother Margaret Beckham, a patient with Caldwell Hospice and Palliative Care.

“My mother was wrapped in the wonderful and compassionate care of Caldwell Hospice for just over a month,” he recalls. “Without that support, she would not have been able to easily stay at home.  Our social worker Cameron, nurse Thea (and several others), along with Chaplain Lance, supported mom and our family through the most difficult time of our lives.”

For Fulgham, this hospice journey was especially poignant because of his professional background. “I am a former non-profit Hospice executive and later a board member and volunteer,” he explains. “Although I had seen hospice care from the organizational and delivery side, I had never experienced it from the patient/family side. It was a tremendous experience and one I will never forget.”

Margaret Beckham was a vibrant 86-year-old Avery County resident, who remained relatively healthy until her diagnosis about a month before her death in 2019. A big advocate of the hospice approach, she was familiar with the specialized care provided for patients and families at the end-of-life and helped to choose that option for herself.

Fulgham recalls that his mother and the family researched available hospice providers in the High Country and chose Caldwell Hospice because of the expanded resources and benefits it provides.

“We made the right choice to choose Caldwell Hospice and to admit when we did,” he says. “Many postpone hospice until circumstances become dire and go through a lot of physical and spiritual pain without support available with hospice. Calling sooner increases quality of life and reduces stress!"

Mrs. Beckham is also survived by her husband Richard. The two were high school sweethearts and both married others. She was a widow when they reunited at their 50th high school reunion and rekindled the romance. They were married for 20 years.

In addition to son Jeffrey, she has two other children—daughters, Sharon and Cele. Nine grandchildren and four great-grandchildren round out the clan.

Though she certainly was busy with family responsibilities, in the community, Mrs. Beckham was known for her expert needlepoint skills and many remember her through the gifts—often custom angel ornaments—she made for those she loved.

She also had a fondness for rabbits. Her home was filled with figurines, paintings and needlepoints of the critters. Her love for these low-eared animals went all the way back as documented through a childhood picture where she was photographed with three live rabbits.

It was important to her family that Mrs. Beckham be able to stay at home and be cared for there as much as possible through her illness, and that is one of the reasons they chose Caldwell Hospice.

“Everything went well,” says Fulgham. “Our mom enjoyed the visits from her care team. In addition to the 'regular' visits, we had some on-call help at night and on weekends."

The Beckham family’s experience with a nonprofit hospice like Caldwell Hospice and Palliative Care confirms the findings of a recent study from the National Partnership for Hospice Innovation (NPHI)—nonprofit hospices as opposed to for-profit entities often provide more nursing, therapy and social work visits and spend double on bereavement services for families. In addition, the report found that added care along with other factors end up saving the Medicare program money because patients being cared for by nonprofit hospices require fewer hospitalizations over time.