Read about the writer, Ellie David.
Taking Care of the People She Loved
Diane Benson died Nov. 8, 2009, at Bailey-Boushay House.
Diane Benson and Kevin Daly reconnected through the Internet in 2008 after a 40-year separation. Each had married, raised kids, and divorced since their first teen romance. In 18 months, they fell in love all over again.
Talk turned to where they would live: The U.S. (she lived in Seattle) or the U.K. (he lived in Bristol, England). But cancer pre-empted their plans.
Kevin’s final visit to Diane in the fall of 2009 was at Bailey-Boushay House.
No one at Bailey-Boushay got the chance to know Diane. She was in a coma soon after arriving for end-of-life care. But staff did get to know, and comfort, the people Diane loved.
“Warmth literally was radiating from every staff member,” says Kevin. “They really gave a damn. Diane and I and her family were treated as the most important people in the world.”
Diane’s death early one morning, at age 54, was dignified, peaceful, and pain-free, with Kevin sleeping beside her.
Kevin never left the building during Diane’s last days. He remembers with special gratitude the gentle camaraderie of two security guards during his late-night vigils.
“It was just banter,” Kevin explains, “but the two of them saved me that week. Grant Nevills with his humor and Stephen Walsh, a fellow countryman, just chatting about normal things like football. That’s the break I needed. They went out of their way to befriend me, and I found myself seeking them out.”
In 2011 Kevin wrote a story for the Daily Mail, one of the U.K.’s largest newspapers — about twice finding and losing his first love. And that’s how Bailey-Boushay finally got to know Diane.
She was vivacious, with a mischievous twinkle in her eye, a sailor’s vocabulary when needed, and a passionate commitment to helping incarcerated young people whose lives had run off course.
She loved being the mother of three and grandmother of three and a half (the youngest was born just months after Diane died). Music and Judaism were central to her life. She sang in the temple choir, tutored Hebrew and loved to chant Torah. Kevin says he remembers Diane singing passionately on an earlier visit to Seattle, and seeing the emotion in the faces of the congregation who loved her.
Kevin keeps in touch weekly with Diane’s mother, Peggy Kann, who is now in her 90s. He still learns things he didn’t know about Diane because of their 40-year separation. Kevin says he’s at peace with her end.
“She was a very special lady, and she was treated that way at Bailey-Boushay,” he says. “It’s a lovely building, but it’s the people within that make the difference. Warmth is the only word for it.”