SPRING HILL — In the 1990s, a memorial brick walkway was built at Hospice House, featuring some 2,000 bricks — 900 of them engraved as memorials to loved ones.
In preparation for construction of the newly opened Hospice Care Center on the campus on Cortez Boulevard, the walkway had to be removed, said Ginger Olson, hospice's gift planner.
After 16 months in careful storage, the green and white masonry has now been reinstalled outside Hospice House in an artful meandering arrangement in locations requested by donors.
On Wednesday afternoon, the walkway was rededicated.
Several survivors of former hospice patients attended, including one who came from Liverpool, England.
Bernard Limacher had donated an engraved brick in 2002 after his sister, Vivian Dzida, a Spring Hill resident, died at age 59 from a brain tumor after a period in local hospice care.
Limacher, 56, said he made the trip because he wanted to see the new place his memorial had been placed.
He was aware that another sister in the family had contributed a second brick, but was surprised Wednesday when he discovered three others — all placed in a row — had been donated by family descendants.
They read, "In memory of ..., "Peace be with U ...," "Our friend ... ."
Limacher said he choked up at the sight.
Some 100 bricks have been inscribed just in the last year.
The walkway leads to an open space of comfortable wooden and wrought-iron benches on a grassy plot surrounded by landscaping — "a place of solace for so many, so tranquil," Olson said. "We're giving patients and families, chaplains and social workers a wonderful place to reflect."
Because many who die here are buried out of state or cremated, family members and friends might find it difficult to visit final resting places, Olson said.
"Many donors find it easier and more comforting to visit the walkway vs. making a trip to the cemetery," she said. "This gives them a wonderful place to reflect. This becomes a place of memory."
Indeed, it has for Limacher, said hospice communications specialist Jane Freeman. He treasured the care provided by HPH so much that he wanted his sister memorialized here, even though no relatives live in the area.
Not only has the walkway been repositioned and refurbished, with landscaping added; a new walkway of 6,000 bricks has been laid at the nearby care center. Some 75 of those bricks have been engraved. In the last year, some 100 bricks installed in both walks bear inscriptions.
Dedication of the new walkway, near a gazebo with a pergola to be added soon, was also part of Wednesday's event.
Officiating at the dedications, Tom Beason, director of spiritual care for hospice, emphasized their contribution to "exquisite repose, a place to be when people are learning to live and learning to die."
"And people who are walking these bricks every day are providing that care," he added.
A Time of Remembrance service followed the dedications. The services are held twice each year at hospice.
At the conclusion of the service, a flock of doves was released.
Beth Gray can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.