Curious George Team Honors Mother in CentraCare Golf Scramble

“They (Hospice staff) were super supportive of all of us. Helping us to cope, providing support and hands on attention to our mother. The caregivers were so in-tune with mom and with us. They even took our calls in the middle of the night when we needed advice.”

Beverly Gustafson loved life to the fullest.

She showed it in the way she cherished the outdoors, cared for neighborhood animals, lived on the lake, and enjoyed a good game of golf. She valued her faith, her family and keeping herself surrounded by positive life lessons. Even if those lessons came courtesy of Curious George.

In 1996, Beverly and Harold (Lyle) Gustafson built a home on Lake Koronis and made the Paynesville community their permanent home. Bev and Lyle were both members of the Koronis Hills Golf Club, participating in men’s and women’s leagues. Lyle taught his daughter, Leah, to golf as an adult and the family shared many rounds, and memories together on the course. Golfers will find a bench on hole 16 honoring Bev and Lyle.

“So many memories out there,” Leah commented.

When Leah received her CentraCare Foundation newsletter this spring, she noticed there was a team event in Paynesville on June 10. It was exactly one year from when her mother, Beverly, passed away on June 10, 2021.

Leah called her sister and extended family members to ask if they wanted to golf in the tournament to honor Bev and they were “all in.” In fact, the Curious George team was the first team to register online.

“We didn’t realize we were crashing a mostly business affair,” laughed Leah. “We certainly raised curiosity from the other golfers when we showed up in our matching shirts and hats.”

Participating in the scramble gave Lori, Adam, Leah and Tina the opportunity to remember their mother/grandmother, and to reflect on the care and support they received through CentraCare Hospice after Beverly’s cancer diagnosis. Beverly’s son Guy also was active in his mom’s care but he lives in Texas so he wasn’t able to golf with the team.

“It was 3 months from our moms’ diagnosis to departure,” said Leah. “We received care through the oncology departments in St. Cloud and Paynesville. On June 2, 2021, they suggested that we begin Hospice care. Those nursing visits started immediately.”

Hospice care involves more than caring for the patient. It is a program that is designed to care for the entire family.

“They were super supportive of all of us. Helping us to cope, providing support and hands on attention to our mother. The caregivers were so in-tune with mom and with us. They even took our calls in the middle of the night when we needed advice.”

Nola Varilek, Home Care and Hospice Community Outreach, commented that the Home Care and Hospice program receives funding through Foundation funding to cover supplies and therapies not covered under most patient insurance plans.

“It’s wonderful to see our Foundation impacting the lives of patients and families all over our service areas. Support through the CentraCare Foundation is very impactful to the care we provide to others.”

To be cared for instead of caring for others, was also a huge emotional shift for the family.

Beverly Gustafson
Beverly Gustafson at her Lake Koronis home.

“Our mother had so much energy. Taking care of her lake home, after our dad was gone, was hard but she always wanted us ‘kids’ to have fun on the golf course or the lake whenever we visited. Mom wanted to do all the cooking and chores. She was a gracious, giving person to everyone.”

Beverly shared her compassion to residents of Koronis Manor Nursing Home during Lyle’s residence there from 2016-18.

“Our mom was at his side, every single day,” said Lori. “She often shared her time and crafting talents with residents who did not have family or frequent visitors. She was always thinking of others.”

You may be wondering how Leah, Lori, Tina and Adam chose their team’s name.

“When my dad was still at home, he often had the news on which can be depressing at times. Our mom always loved the Curious George cartoon episodes. She liked how the stories provided good morals and life lessons. Curious George made her laugh and feel good. Quite often we would be watching sports at the lake and the auto-tune programming would switch us to Curious George. When we decided to participate in the scramble, Lori and Tina suggested the team theme and ordered the shirts. It seemed so fitting and perfect!”

Will the Curious George foursome return to play again?

“As long as we are allowed, we will be back,” laughed Leah. “Every now and then, on a Saturday morning when I’m relaxing with my morning coffee, I find myself taking in a Curious George episode. He’s just become a very meaningful character to our family.”