The Life of Ron Hamilton—A Whale of a Tale
by Shelly Hamilton (November 5, 2021)
A little over 40 years ago, Ron and I first set sail on the Jolly Roger across the open seas. We sailed in harmony as Patch the Pirate and Sissy Seagull. In 2010, our adventure took a sharp turn. I began noticing Ron was having trouble remembering things I had just told him. So it has been for the last eleven years—a slow decline into dementia. Ron was able to continue writing, though only on a small scale, through 2015.
From 2015 through 2017, we continued our traveling ministry with Megan and Adam. It became increasingly more difficult to get Ron dressed for our church concerts and be on time. We would walk into the auditorium where we were doing the music, ten minutes after the service had begun. I told Megs and Adam, “There will be no more traveling for Ron and I after December 2017.” And I stuck to my word.
After we stopped traveling, I was able to keep Ron at home for two years, caring for him with the help of our daughter Alyssa. Ron went under the umbrella of hospice in June of 2019. Providentially, I had previously obtained two in-home health care insurance policies for Ron. I was able to use the first one to cover nurses and caregivers for 2020. The policy only ran for 360 days. When I switched to the second policy in 2021, a big challenge awaited me.
After spending $47,000 out of our retirement savings, this second company denied reimbursing me because of problems with our caregiving company. Many friends across the country came to our aid, helping me recoup this expenditure for Ron’s care. My heartfelt thanks to all of you who felt led of the Lord to contribute.
From April through July this year, 2021, Alyssa and I again cared for Ron at home with part-time caregiver help. By July, we felt like we could no longer safely continue. Sorrowfully and painfully, I placed Ron in memory care at Pendleton Manor in Greenville, South Carolina. Thankfully, the facility is only a six-minute drive from our home.
Ron is presently in the final “stage 7” of dementia. He is bedridden until a nurse can comfortably situate him in a wheelchair. Open ulcers on both feet remain a continual concern. The joy of the Lord, however, remains his constant companion.
We do not know how many more days God will give Ron on this earth. Sometimes he appears worse than others. Although his passing does not seem imminent, it could be at any time. I am making final preparations in case his homegoing is sooner rather than later.
My voyage with Ron Hamilton on the Jolly Roger has led to a life full of high adventure—A Whale of a Tale! Many grown-up Patch kids have told us, “Patch the Pirate music has become the soundtrack of my life.” Others have said, “Patch not only entered our homes, but our hearts.”
God has given Ron a 40-year window with the gift of language and music. Now, with Ron’s frontotemporal dementia, language is the gift that has been taken away. Uncannily, music remains. “The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.”