Goodbye to the old Mott, from Maddie’s Mom

As we prepare to move into the new C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital this December, many of our staff and families have been reminiscing about the countless memories we all have from the more than 40 years in the current facility.  This week’s post contains the transcript of a story one of our beloved families shared with us at a recent employee gathering to say “goodbye” to the old Mott building.  We would like to thank Shannan for sharing this beautiful story. We are lucky to have had you and Maddie be a part of our Mott story and we are so honored to have one of the beams of the new building bearing her name.

Hello, my name is Shannan Shaw, although most Mott people know me as “Maddie’s Mom.” My daughter Maddie was an inpatient on the 5th floor PCTU for almost 16 months straight. She was admitted February 9th, 2007 just before her 3rd birthday and she took her last breath here on May 27th, 2008.  Mott was her home for nearly 1/3rd of her life. It was also my home away from home. Our place to play, feel sick and get better, our place to work, to stress out, die of boredom, our place to cry and our place to have hope beyond reason. This was the place where our future was decided.

So, it pleases me very much to be able to talk with you this morning about saying ‘Goodbye’ to such an amazing place.

You know, everyone has been so busy preparing for the move into the new hospital that it is hard to give much of a second thought to what soon will be in our past. But, just as it is when you graduate from high school or move away from your childhood home, taking the time to say goodbye can be validating and cathartic. Have you ever gone back and visited a home you used to live in, or walked the halls of your old high school years later? Maybe you found your old locker and tried to remember the combination.

Moving on from a place, whether it be a high school or a hospital, signifies a big change in time. The physical space itself defines a chunk of our very own history and our experiences.

Maddie and her family and I had our own unique experiences here. Ones that I do not want to forget. Here are some of the bigger highlights.

  • She spent her third birthday in the OR in surgery where she received the first Berlin Heart in Michigan.
  • She celebrated her 3 ½ birthday in the courtyard garden. I had never even heard of celebrating half birthday’s before this.
  • She had an amazing Halloween here.  She was the Queen of Hearts with the entire entourage of characters being played by her family and nurse.
  • Christmas was celebrated in her own room as well as in the Mott hotel, and in the old waiting area on the second floor.
  • She had a huge blowout fourth birthday party in the 8th floor Family Resource Center. There were about 30 children and umpteen adults all enjoying a very special day.
  • New Year’s, two Valentine’s days, two Easters,  two mother’s days, father’s day, family birthday’s,  lots of surgeries and procedures, and hospital events both happy and sad were all experienced by us.
  •  We were here when different staff got engaged, married, announced their pregnancies and even lost their children to tragic accidents.  We were here to watch football stars come through, and were here when the transplant team aircraft crashed.
  • We said hello and goodbye to many other patients, and staff.

But really, such a huge part of our time here was spent doing very boring, mundane  things. The kind of things that I felt were a waste of time or just had to be endured. Finding a parking space and parking the car. Checking in at security, getting my badge for the day.  Waiting for and taking elevators up and down, every single day. Taking the long, long walk to the cafeteria, rounding the corner wondering if it would be a small crowd or a large crowd to get through. Trying to make some sort of meal selection that would prove to be interesting and different from the last eight months of breakfasts, lunches, and dinners. Finding a place to sit in the cafeteria where there was a plug we could use to plug in Maddie’s Berlin Heart driver.

Sometimes I look down these halls and think about how we used to spend our days exploring every nook and cranny of the hospital (even all the bathrooms). We would take walks throughout Mott and beyond into the rest of the hospital as well. We walked all the floors and hallways many times, played in the playrooms, watched the fish in the fish tank, enjoyed countless hours in the family resource center, hung out in the CVC arboretum, ate in every eatery possible, and shopped in the gift shops. Of course any nice day outside meant we could go out into the courtyard, feed the squirrels, play in the water fountain, pick a few flowers, and just sit in the sunshine. We tried to squeeze out every bit of fun that we could out of the hospital.

So now when I walk around this hospital, I don’t just see the physical space of a hospital. I see all the experiences we had and all the emotions we felt. I wonder about all the experiences of the thousands upon thousands of other patients, nurses, doctors, and staff. Everyone single one of you has your own story played out here in these halls and rooms. Your stories give it the life it has. Even though it is not always visible or seen, you have all made your mark on this hospital. And it has made its mark on you.

Just a couple last thoughts I want to leave you with. Three years ago, as the new hospital was being built, there was a day for patients and families to come and sign their name on the beams of the building. Maddie’s name is here, and so she too has made her mark on the new Mott, connecting the old with the new. Our stories and those of everyone to come will fill the new hospital, adding to Mott’s story, extending it and enriching it. So, I don’t feel this is so much of a goodbye as a welcoming of the new, inviting what is to come to be a part of what already has been.

And lastly, when Maddie passed away, we had to choose where to bury her. After looking at several different places, we ultimately decided on the cemetery that is right next door to the hospital. Her spot sits right where you can look up and see Mott beautifully. I like to think she is watching over this new hospital, witnessing all the new stories unfold as history continues to be made here. Thank you.

We invite anyone with a memory of the “old” Mott that they’d like to share to submit them to our “Mott Memories” gallery on Facebook.  Just visit the Mott Facebook page (www.facebook.com/mottchildren) and click on the “Mott Memories” icon in the menu on the left under our profile pic.  You can also check out all the other memories by viewing the Gallery once you enter the app.