Take it from Grace

A positive attitude helps you deal with illness and loss

Grace Neumann credits her upbringing for the positive attitude that has sustained her throughout her life, including the illness and eventual death of her husband.

When she was a girl, her dad, George Fleischer, would open the side window of their home in Rocky River, Ohio, and call out to her as she shuffled down the street. “Grace!” he bellowed. “Put your shoulders back and your chest out, and smile!”

Tall even as a child, she used to slouch to make herself appear shorter, like the other girls in the neighborhood. Now, thanks to her father’s prodding, she’s proud of her ramrod-straight posture.

It’s indicative of how she deals with life: head-on, without complaint. “I am quite optimistic. I work on it,” she says. “The longer I live, the more I realize the importance of attitude in life.”

That’s also thanks to her dad, who used to tell her, “No one wants to hear your problems, Grace.”

She went on to enjoy a 45-year marriage filled with love and adventure. The now-retired speech pathology teacher and her chemical engineer-turned-lawyer husband traveled the world. Grace and Arthur Neumann stayed in beautiful resorts on some trips, in tents on others, and drove through Europe in a Volkswagen van. Wherever they went, they found time for their favorite activities, including golf, scuba diving, swimming and water skiing.

A Life of Celebration

At home, the Neumanns were avid bridge players who formed close friendships with fellow bridge club members. They also were active in their church and various social organizations. “We celebrated all the time and had a very active social life,” Mrs. Neumann says. “We had an awful lot of fun.”

However, during the last decade of his life, Mr. Neumann developed heart problems, which ran in his family. “He was on a lot of medication but led a normal and active life until his last year,” Mrs. Neumann says.

Eventually, they moved out of their house in Lakewood, Ohio, and into an apartment overlooking Lake Erie. “He was pretty ill, but we scheduled our bridge clubs to play there, and we went through a whole year’s worth of games in a few months. It was so great for him – everybody came. It was a super way to keep him going.”

In 2006, when Mr. Neumann was 81, he fell at home. “As soon as his doctor saw him, he said, ‘He’s going to hospice,’” Mrs. Neumann says. “It was exactly the right thing to do. His care was excellent.”

Grateful for the hospice medical team that improved her husband’s quality of life, even in his final days, Mrs. Neumann chose to support Hospice of Cleveland Clinic with a charitable gift annuity.

With her gift, Mrs. Neumann will have a guaranteed income stream for life while helping extend the benefits of hospice care to others.

“Through my support of Hospice of Cleveland Clinic, I hope to help other people needing this care,” Mrs. Neumann says. “Hospice care is a marvelous gift to the human race.”

A version of this story originally appeared in the winter 2008 issue of Pyramid, which provides ideas on financial, estate and gift planning for friends of Cleveland Clinic.

To make a gift supporting the Hospice of Cleveland Clinic or any area of Cleveland Clinic, visit our secure giving site or call Institutional Relations and Development at 216.444.1245 or toll-free at 800.223.2273, ext. 41245.

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