After her mom passed away, one woman was desperate to see the nurse who’d looked after her. So she decided to call an urgent meeting – and once she had the nurse’s attention, the grieving daughter told her everything.
Gloria LaDoux lived in Phoenix, Arizona. There, she had raised her three daughters with her beloved husband, Robert. And according to her children, LaDoux was the most loving mom anyone could imagine.
“She was a mother who made it her job to provide a safe, secure and healthy environment for her family,” they revealed in an online obituary in February 2017. They added, “She was there to hug you before you went to school and again after you came home from school. She loved her job and there was nobody that could have done it better.”
LaDoux was loved by all who knew her. In her advanced years, she had taken to making friends on social media. But most of all, she enjoyed keeping up with her family and ensuring that they watched their language online.
LaDoux and her family were very close. So when doctors diagnosed the grandmother with ALS in 2014, they all rallied around to support her. ALS is a form of motor-neuron disease, so her family knew LaDoux would need all the help she could get.
The first symptoms of ALS frequently include the inability to lift or grasp small items. Then, as the disease progresses, various muscles weaken and sufferers experience a form of paralysis. Eventually, patients will have difficulty speaking, eating and even breathing.
The rate ALS develops differs from person to person. Indeed, medical experts say that the average lifespan of someone with the illness is three to five years. However, many sufferers have gone on to live for more than a decade after their diagnosis.
LaDoux’s illness progressed over a period of four years. “She went from 100 pounds to 79 pounds,” Gerrie Hanke, LaDoux’s daughter, told CBS 5. “It was loss of legs, loss of arms, not being able to move her head. The only thing that moved was her eyes.”
Eventually, ALS left LaDoux bed bound. As a result, her family decided to hire an at-home nurse in order to help them take care of their beloved mother. That’s how they came to know Maria Supulchre.
During the final months of LaDoux’s life, Supulchre did everything she could for her patient. Aside from attending to her medical needs, she would brush LaDoux’s hair, paint her nails and rub her aching muscles. In general, she would ensure that LaDoux was always comfortable and could have some dignity.
However, Supulchre didn’t believe her actions were out of the ordinary. “I have been a patient myself too, I’ve been in their shoes,” she later said. “I just tried to treat her the way I wanted to be treated myself.”
But for LaDoux’s family, Supulchre’s kindness was invaluable. “To come home and see that kind of care for my mom, it meant everything in the world to us,” Hanke explained. “It was piece of mind for me to know that I was leaving my mom with somebody that I trusted 100 percent.”
And although caring for a dying parent is never easy, LaDoux’s family found themselves able to cope because, as their mother faded away, Supulchre was there to ensure she had the best quality of life possible. And for that, they will always be thankful.
So when LaDoux passed away in February 2017, Hanke was comforted by the fact that Supulchre had helped her mom feel human until the very end. As a result, even though LaDoux was gone, the nurse remained almost like part of the family. Following the funeral, then, they were eager to do something in return for Supulchre’s dedication.
So Hanke decided to reach out to CBS 5 and Pay it Forward. The charity feature is dedicated to those who do good deeds in the community. In return, the television network gives the good Samaritan a cash prize for their selfless actions.
And the network was keen to feature Supulchre on the show. “We asked you out here today because I don’t feel just a thank-you is good enough for the job you did with my mom,” Hanke explained to the nurse as the cameras rolled. “So I reached out to Channel 5 to ask me to help pay it forward to you for the care you gave my mom.”
During the heartwarming segment, Hanke was clearly emotional as she spoke candidly about her mom’s final days. “You weren’t just a nurse to my mom, you were a friend,” she told Supulchre. “You loved my mom and you went way above and beyond anything we could have ever expected from you.”
Supulchre, who had no idea why she was appearing on television, looked confused. However, all became clear when Hanke handed over a check for $500. “We wanted to thank you for all the care you did for my mom – her nails, her hair, massages,” Hanke explained.
With that, the two women hugged. It was clear to see at that moment how much respect they had for each other, and they were both linked by their love for LaDoux. “I would definitely say she treated my mom like her mom,” Hanke explained.
Supulchre gave no hints about how she would spend her cash. However, she already had something much more valuable than money. The knowledge that, through her work, she had given someone the best last days possible.