Tree of Memories Celebrate Loved Ones
Throughout the month of December and the first week of January, seasonal trees decorated with seashells bearing the names of remembered family and friends will be on display outdoors at three Cape Cod Healthcare locations—Cape Cod Hospital, Falmouth Hospital and McCarthy Care Center in Sandwich. The event benefits the Visiting Nurse Association of Cape Cod Hospice. Decorated trees will be on display between December 1, 2021 through January 7, 2022.
The Tree of Memories started about 28 years ago, according to Ellen McCabe, clinical manager of the McCarthy Care Center, which is operated by the Cape Cod Visiting Nurse Association’s Hospice division.
“The idea behind the trees is that seashells are strong, beautiful, and ever-present, much like the memories we have of our family members,” she said. “The idea that we place them on a living tree is the same thing; just like the memories of our loved ones, and the heritage of our loved ones, the branches extend outwards touching many people and the roots of that tree and connection go deep into the ground.”
People Give for Personal Reasons
This year, members of the public are invited to make a gift and name a person or people they would like to remember, along with their preferred tree location for their seashell ornament. Donors may also choose to honor a special caregiver who has made a difference in their life. Those who wish to keep their ornament, may remove it from the tree in January.
“There are many donors to the VNA Hospice through the Tree of Memories and people give for very personal reasons,” said Beth Howard, manager of annual giving at Cape Cod Healthcare Foundation.
Janice from Falmouth, who has been a donor to Cape Cod Healthcare since 2008, is grateful for the compassionate care the VNA of Cape Cod Hospice provided to her late husband, Jack. The couple raised five daughters outside Albany, New York, and moved to the Cape upon retirement. In 2014, Jack became ill and he spent six weeks in intensive care. He was eventually moved to McCarthy Care Center, where he passed away less than 48 hours after arriving there. He was able to pass away peacefully with his family.
“We were so blessed by the care and the love that they gave him,” said Janice. Together, they enjoyed 60 years of marriage, five daughters, 18 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.
Special Shells Hung with Care
This year at the McCarthy Care Center, the shells are going to be hung on two evergreens in the grouping of trees in the middle of the stone pathway where park benches are located, said McCabe.
“The shells definitely hold special meaning for people and to know that their donation supports the overall mission of hospice within our health system,” she said. “It is a lasting memorial.”
By making a gift to the Tree of Memories this year, you are helping to support the compassionate care the VNA Cape Cod Hospice provides to families during this holiday season and beyond.
Decorated trees will be located at the following locations through January 7, 2022:
- Cape Cod Hospital - outside of Davenport Mugar Cancer Center
27 Park Street
Hyannis, MA 02601
- Falmouth Hospital - outside of the cafeteria
100 Ter Heun Drive
Falmouth, MA 02540
- McCarthy Care Center - outside of main entrance
73 Service Road
East Sandwich, MA 02537
Roberta Cannon contributed to this story.