It’s been more than two years since Loretta Seymour lost her father, but the memory of his final hours remains fresh in her mind.
“He hadn’t eaten in days, hadn’t slept, now he’s on oxygen and huge amounts of morphine for the pain,” she recalled.
Her father had been diagnosed with prostate cancer about a year prior.
He was sick, exhausted and dying when he was rushed to the emergency department at Etobicoke General Hospital.
Desperate to ease his suffering, Seymour turned to the nurse on staff that night for help.
“I said, ‘He’s afraid of dying,’ … And she goes, ‘May I pray?'” Seymour whispered with tears filling her eyes.
“I said ‘absolutely.’ So she prayed for him, with him, and all of a sudden starts singing the most beautiful song.”
Seymour remembered how the nurse comforted him.
“She was massaging his feet, she was bringing blankets to keep his feet warm,” she said.
“As awful as death is, it was a beautiful experience because of her.”
At one point, in his last hours, Seymour’s father asked his daughter to snap a photograph of the nurse’s badge, which had her picture and her name.
Seymour said she understood in that moment, he would want her to find that nurse after his death to thank her.
So she did.
It turned out the nurse is not employed by the hospital, but had been brought in that night to work.
Then last month, Seymour had been glancing through her photos when she came across the nurse’s badge.
She decided to post about her search on social media.
“This is a long shot …. 2.5 years ago, July 15, 2017, I held my dad’s hand during his final hours on earth. He was in emerg at E.G.H. and the most amazing nurse was on duty that night,” the post read.
It ended with, “Thank you to all of the amazing nurses in this world who work so hard and do so much. If you know this amazing woman … please put her in touch with me.”
Then it happened.
The power of social media led that Facebook post to a unit clerk at a hospital in Milton.
“I got to work and the unit clerk said, ‘Omolara, I need to show you something,'” said nurse Omolara Ishola.
Ishola said she was shocked but remembered Loretta Seymour and her father.
Just 48 hours later, the women were reunited.
There were hugs and many tears.
“I feel very humbled because as a nurse you do what you do not for recognition. Patient care is provided because you want to make a difference in people’s lives,” Ishola said.
“When you’re a nurse, you step into people’s lives most of the time at a very vulnerable moment and I have learned to understand that every man, every woman, every child, is someone’s relation, not just a number,” she added.
The meeting was especially emotional for Seymour.
“I feel like my dad’s message of thanks is passed along to her … I can’t tell you how thankful I am for this beautiful soul being there, comforting him,” she said, adding she felt a newfound sense of peace.
For Ishola, who cares for many patients every day, this moment offers encouragement.
“At every point I remind myself these are human beings, these are people you’re touching and you must make every encounter positive,” she said.
The gift of thanks and giving, in time for the holiday.