ONGOING CARE & GRIEF COUNSELING FOR FAMILY IN NEED
A life well lived. That’s the title of the obituary of Amal “Melo” Sadaka Fekrat written by her beloved family. Melo, who was also known as Ms. Smile, was a constant nurturer whose boundless love, unselfish giving, graciousness, and elegance left a lasting mark, even after her passing in 2022.
Melo met the love of her life, Michael, in 1958, as students at the American University of Beirut. After graduating, they made the decision to leave their home countries in the Middle East to move to the United States. “We wanted the American Dream: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” says Michael. “We agreed that the United States was the only country that gave us the option to pursue our personal and professional dreams.”
Together, they achieved those goals. After Michael received his PhD from Indiana University and joined the Georgetown University faculty, Melo became a successful real estate agent and broker in the Washington, DC area. She was also an involved mom to their two children. Her love of family propelled Michael and Melo to move to the Triangle 20 years ago to be closer to their daughter and her family, in whose lives Melo played a prominent role. Her two children and three grandchildren were central in her life.
Without the support of Duke HomeCare & Hospice, given my physical condition, I would not have been able to have her pass at home, which was important to both of us.
A natural caregiver, Melo was responsible for saving Michael’s life, by calling for immediate help when he suffered a heart attack a few years after they moved to Durham. The support that she provided as he recovered was reciprocated when Michael became her primary caregiver after Melo’s dementia diagnosis years later when she was no longer able to drive or cook. “When we married more than 60 years ago, I raised my hand and I made a promise to take care of her,” says Michael. “I was committed to living up to that promise.”
For the first few years of Melo’s illness, Michael cared for her at home with the support of his daughter and her family. At the end of 2021, the family involved Duke HomeCare & Hospice (DHCH) to begin weekly home nursing visits. In the two months before Melo’s passing, those visits were supplemented by DHCH home health aides and chaplain. “I was determined to keep my vow to care for her, even though it was difficult because of my age and physical lifting that was needed to help her get in and out of bed,” he says. “The situation got more complicated and I needed more assistance as her needs increased.”
In the last two weeks of Melo’s life, the nurse visited several times weekly and an aide went to the home daily to give Melo a sponge bath and help care for her. “At that point, Melo was semi-conscious so having the nurse keep me informed about where we were in this journey was helpful,” says Michael. “Without the support of Duke HomeCare & Hospice, given my physical condition, I would not have been able to have her pass at home, which was important to both of us.”
Michael has also benefited from DHCH’s bereavement services, starting individual grief counseling on a weekly basis after the passing of his lifelong partner , and then gradually tapering the counseling sessions through 2022. “Being able to talk about my concerns and have a professional respond was really valuable,” he says. He appreciated DHCH’s December Lights of Remembrance event during which families and friends dedicated a luminary to honor their loved ones, including Melo.
The situation got more complicated, and I needed more assistance as her needs increased.
“I couldn't have asked for anything better than Duke HomeCare & Hospice,” says Michael. “Each component of the help and support from beginning to the end was excellent and more than I could have ever expected. We were fortunate to have had that experience and support at our time of need. I am grateful that Melo is still alive in our minds and hearts.”
I couldn't have asked for anything better than Duke HomeCare & Hospice. Each component of the help and support from beginning to the end was excellent and more than I could have ever expected.
YOUR GIFT CREATES A BRIGHTER FUTURE FOR OUR PATIENTS AND THEIR FAMILIES
We appreciate every gift of every size, making sure that your generosity is used to advance medical care and provide a better tomorrow for our children. You can choose a dollar amount to give now, or continue exploring more ways that you can support Duke HomeCare & Hospice