Todd Tackett addresses the crowd along with daughters Taylin, Kaycie-Rae, and Rachelle at the Light Up a Life Celebration.
by Lori Harasta
Alan Thornhill, legendary guitar player, silver-throated singer, and award-winning songwriter from Ojai, along with April Davis, angelic soprano from Ventura, brought a little bit of heaven to the Pacific View Mall on an evening in December. It was to celebrate the 31st annual “Light Up a Life” ceremony, one of two fundraisers Livingston Memorial Visiting Nurse Association does each year so that all Ventura County citizens can receive home health or hospice services, regardless of their ability to pay.
More than 500 loved ones were honored this year, with over 200 attending the event. Laura McAvoy, Livingston Board Chairwoman and Dr. Lanyard Dial, Livingston’s President/CEO, and Medical Director welcomed and offered opening remarks.
Among the many dignitaries, volunteers and staff that read names in memory and in honor of loved ones and friends, Katie Howell, Good Grief Facilitator, read names selected by participants in the Good Grief Support Groups, which serves school-age youths who have experienced the death of someone with whom they had an important relationship. (The groups meet during school hours at selected schools in the Ventura/Oxnard area. For more information, go to http://lmvna.org/bereavement/good-grief-support-in-schools.html or call the School Program Bereavement Coordinator at 642-0239 x775.)
After the reading of the names, a montage of loved ones’ photos was displayed with a musical accompaniment from Mr. Thornhill and Ms. Davis.
Each year a family is selected for the honor of lighting the Memory tree at the ceremony. This year it was the family of Leila Tackett. After an arduous eight-year battle with cancer, she succumbed on October 3rd at age 45, leaving behind husband Todd Tackett, 22 year old son Easton, and daughters Rachelle, age 25, Kaycie-Rae, age 14 and Taylin, age 11.
As his girls stood with poise alongside him, a composed and courageous Todd Tackett spoke about coping with loss during the holidays. “At this time of year, after a devastating loss and emotional turmoil, we need to rely on our faith and what Christmas is about. Those of us who have experienced the loss of a loved one have a mission field before us, to come alongside those who are still going through it, to lift them up and give them comfort, just as we have been comforted.”
Leila and her family profoundly touched the lives of the hospice team that cared for her; particularly the volunteers who spent hours at her side providing comfort care.
Hospice volunteers are like earth’s angels, and will often say they receive more than they give. A new training session begins January 27th. For more information, call Maddy Hazard at 640-0239 x775, or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.