“Hospice of the Panhandle taught me how to care for my wife so she could stay home.”
Reva, the love of Warren’s life, wanted to stay in the home where she lived from birth despite the fact leukemia was eroding her health and limiting her days. Warren shares how Hospice of the Panhandle supported him and Reva for seven months so he could care for his wife safely at their home and empower her to pass away with dignity in the place she preferred.
Theirs was a romance for the ages. They were married more than 58 years, raised a family, farmed the land, got involved in local politics and lived in the only house that Reva Mickey called home. They were hard-working, decent Jefferson County salt-of-the earth people, who loved their community and served it well. He was a teacher and farmer, then a Board of Education member, who held various statewide education posts. She was a school counselor, a mentor to many young women and a Democratic Party activist.
And when she became ill, there was no question that G. Warren Mickey would care for her, gently and lovingly, in the only home Reva ever knew.
"She loved sitting on the porch, just looking out at the farm, enjoying nature and looking over at the fields," Warren said. "And she never, ever complained, not once during those last months."
The Mickeys' love story will be the focus of a series of advertisements set to debut on cable TV, WDVM and local radio stations, later this year. Hospice of the Panhandle has been producing commercials for the past five years or so, profiling the lives patients and families who have used Hospice's many services along their personal journey.
"Reva and I talked it over and made the decision (for both of us) that we both wanted to die at home," Warren said. "So that was the plan, and I made sure that happened (when she became ill)."
Reva was diagnosed with leukemia and, before the couple opted for hospice care, used home health services. Reva, who was 82 when she passed, was a Hospice patient in late 2021, for about four months. Warren talked about caring for her for seven months.
"They (the Hospice team) always gave her all the care that she needed when they were here," Warren said. "They gave me the technical expertise to do what I needed to do — to change the bed, to give her medicine. The care was outstanding."
Warren says one of the things he is most grateful for is that Reva was cared for by the Hospice team with dignity and she was able to live her last months on her own terms.
"Reva was pain-free (until) the day she passed," Warren said. "And she died in the same room in which she was born."
Their love story began, quite simply, when they were both in seventh grade and they went to the same church. They started out as good friends, and then, the love blossomed over the years. They raised a family – a son and daughter – and Warren speaks fondly of a foster daughter named Sasha, who they met and took under their wing after a trip to Russia decades ago.
"Sasha came and helped every weekend," Warrant said. "She'd drive down from Pittsburgh just to give me a break."
On a wall in the living room hangs a pencil drawing that Sasha drew while she was visiting. It is of Reva, resting. Their home is filled with mementos of Reva and Warren, photos over the years, capturing memories of anniversaries, holidays and cherished family times. Warren points to a chandelier in the dining room that collapsed on the Thanksgiving dinner table one year. Reva calmly moved it out of the way, and they went on with their family feast as planned.
"She was a force to be reckoned with," Warren said. "But we were a good team. She loved this community, this house and her family and her students. There isn't anything she wouldn't do to help someone."
Adjusting to life without his beloved spouse hasn't been easy. After all, 58 years is a long time. Changing names on accounts, getting bills paid, and of course, taking care of a family farm would be daunting tasks to many.
But Warren is grateful for the many years they spent together, the life they built together. And he's grateful to be able to share his and Reva's story, and their last months together when she was under the care of Hospice of the Panhandle, with the community.
"If you have a loved one or a family member who is in ill health and needs help, don't wait," Warren said. "Call Hospice of the Panhandle."