Haberman gets miles of smiles | PostIndependent.com

Haberman gets miles of smiles

Post Independent Photo/Jim Noelker

BATTLEMENT MESA ” It looked like there was a party going on at Chuck and Marcia Haberman’s house Wednesday morning ” and that’s because there was.

Up and down Battlement Creek Trail, all kinds of vehicles were parked, one behind the other, in front of the couple’s southwestern-style stucco house.

Down the driveway, a lively collection of about 25 people gathered, laughing and chatting. Laid out on the ground, a gigantic roll of butcher block paper was rolled out, with hundreds of greeting cards glued to it.

The gathering was the brainchild of the Habermans’ daughter, Suz Hutchinson.

“It’s the ‘Mile of Smiles’ for Marcia,” Hutchinson said with a laugh.

Marcia was diagnosed with cancer last fall. The family’s physician, Dr. Diane Dill, referred Marcia and her family to Roaring Fork Hospice, an affiliate of Valley View Hospital, in February after the doctor determined Marcia’s cancer was no longer responding to treatment.

For Marcia and her family, letting Roaring Fork Hospice into their lives has been a gift. Hospice has allowed Marcia to ease off of aggressive therapies and approach the end of life amidst family and friends.

“We act as a safety net,” said Dee Morris, Roaring Fork Hospice clinical nursing supervisor.

She drove from Glenwood Springs Wednesday to be part of the fun.

“I wanted to be here, to represent all of us at hospice,” Morris said.

By stepping in, hospice gives family members the ability to focus on their loved one ” and not on the minutia of details that go with caring for someone nearing the end of life.

“The people at hospice are like part of our family,” said Hutchinson matter-of-factly.

“We provide whatever the patient and the family needs,” explained Morris. “The family doesn’t have to worry, ‘Is Mom going to fall down today? Is she going to need refills on her medications?’ We do all of that, so that everyone can focus on enjoying their time together. “

Morris said Marcia’s medications are monitored by hospice nurses ” who visit the home several times a week. Prescriptions are delivered directly to the Haberman house.

“If Marcia needs a hospital bed, a wheelchair, a massage ” whatever, we’re here to provide it,” Morris said.

And that goes for the family as well. Hospice services extend to family members, be it a back rub or a counseling session.

Morris said hospice’s “safety net” philosophy has another benefit: It allows family and friends to come up with wonderful, fun ways to spend time with Marcia, like Hutchinson’s “Mile of Smiles.”

For the past few weeks, Hutchinson has been spreading the word ” via e-mail, phone calls and word of mouth ” about a “Mile of Smiles” for her mom.

Hutchinson’s idea was to have enough cards to create 5,280 feet ” a mile ” of funny cards.

“Mom’s got a great sense of humor, so we asked for funny cards,” Hutchinson said. “The funnier the better.”

So far, Marcia has received about 400 cards from locals and people all over the country.

Wednesday morning, the “Mile of Smiles” crowd got in a long line and wrapped the Habermans’ house with funny greeting cards ” many store-bought, some home-made.

As one group held up the roll, another group, armed with duct tape, secured the butcher paper roll of cards. The roll literally encircled the outside of Chuck and Marcia’s house.

“It’s amazing how things happen,” said Suz, standing in the Habermans’ backyard, looking at the long band of butcher paper.

Before being plastered on the side of the house, Marcia got a good look at all the cards.

“Oh, I did,” she said, smiling. “I read every single one of them.”

Morris said the “Mile of Smiles” morning is a great experience for everyone.

“So many times, friends want to come visit, but they don’t know what to say,” she said.

Once the cards were up, folks followed the roll of butcher paper, pointing at cards. Gales of laughter sprang up from all around the house.

All told, the “Mile of Smiles” equaled more than 500 feet of cards ” or 1/10th of a mile, according to Marcia’s friend Joan Culbertson, who paced off the length of the butcher paper roll.

For Suz Hutchinson, the project went far beyond a mile.

“The intangible miles go on forever,” she said. “I spent one whole day just reading cards aloud and laughing with Mom. And think of the joy Mom’s bringing to everyone who sends a card, what fun everybody’s having finding these cards. We got our miles right here.”

Contact Carrie Click: 945-8515, ext. 518


Suz Hutchinson is asking anyone who would like to participate in Marcia Haberman’s “Mile of Smiles” to send the funniest card they can find (or create) to:

“A Mile of Smiles”

Marcia Haberman

c/o Suz Hutchinson

2200 Sand Castle Lane

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