*Hal’s family wanted us to let you know that he passed away. Hal’s memorial service will be on Saturday January 5 at 11 a.m. at The Old Ship Church in Hingham.*
The day that Harold (Hal) Thomas, Jr. was born, his father’s colleagues gave the new parents (Harold, Sr. and Gertrude Thomas) a dog statue to commemorate the happy occasion. The year was 1924 and baby Hal was born to American missionaries in Ningpo, China. His father, a Harvard-trained physician, cared for patients at the Hwa Mei Hospital as part of his work with the American Baptist Foreign Mission Society. That same ornate statue still sits prominently on Hal’s mantle in his Hingham home.
Hal’s home is joyful and bright. He and his wife Mary, along with carefully chosen architects, transformed an antique chicken barn into the couple’s dream home more than 55 years ago. In every corner, you can see memories from their happy life together. “Hospice is…convenient. It is wonderful,” said Hal. “They come to my home and I feel very supported.”
Hal’s wife Mary added her perspective as a caregiver. She said, “We were through a revolving door at the Hospital. After so many hospital visits, we decided it was time to try palliative care.”
Mary added that when it was time to consider hospice, the couple chose to stay with NVNA and Hospice. Mary says they were familiar with Hospice because Hal’s sister had been a Hospice nurse. “Together, we were able to get him down from eleven medications to three. They gave Hal just what he needed, ” said Mary.
Hal and Mary first met in 1958 at a square dance in Harvard Square. Mary had just finished teaching at the University of Hawaii where she was intrigued by Asian influences. Hal’s childhood in China was a point of interest. They talked until 2 a.m. That was the beginning of a wonderful marriage and family that includes a son and two beautiful grandchildren.
Hal, a retired Weymouth shop teacher and UNH-grad, has so many stories to tell at his Hingham table. The 94-year-old walks around his beautiful home with just a little support from a walker and happily sits beside his wife. As part of the greatest generation, Hal talks about when he served in the Army and was stationed in France, just outside of Paris, as an army medic during World War II. Looking over at the Chinese dog from Hal’s birth makes both Hal and Mary smile.
“The dying process is part of life. Hospice embraces the wisdom of that and all that it gives. When consciously chosen, it is a beautiful model,” says Mary.
We at NVNA and Hospice are honored to be a small part of Hal and Mary’s fascinating life.