Prescott, AZ – Dr. Martin Boxer is no stranger to change. The retired pediatrician has shifted his focus from the very young to those at the end of life. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, you could find him every Friday at the Good Samaritan Society’s Marley House, an inpatient hospice in Prescott, Arizona, where he is a volunteer. And that suits him just fine.
“I’ve come full circle,” Boxer says. “As a pediatrician, I did not have much experience with the elderly or the dying. Now, I do a little bit of everything.” ‘Everything’ includes bringing food to patients, offering lotion for dry skin, or just listening.
The secret of long life … and other stories
Boxer says he tries to make life easier for the Marley House’s patients. His goal is simple: a smile, whether from a patient, a family member or an employee. His favorite part of volunteering is hearing the patients’ stories.
“One question sometimes ask is ‘what is the secret to long life?’” Boxer says. “I asked one gentleman who was over 100 years old. His answer wasn’t what you expect; he didn’t say, ‘don’t drink’ or ‘don’t smoke.’
“It was fly fishing,” Boxer says. “And he was worried that the person who inherited his equipment wasn’t going to take proper care of it.”
Another patient had traveled the world as a pianist until a stroke took away his ability to play as well as he used to. Boxer encouraged him to try again. When he returned the following week, Boxer learned that the man had given an hour-long concert for the staff and other patients on the Marley House’s keyboard.
Music is a big part of the Marley House. Another man brought his wife for respite care. He warned the staff that she didn’t speak anymore. Then Boxer learned that she was originally from Detroit and loved Motown music. When staff pulled up the music on his cell phone, she started to sing.
“She knew every word!” Boxer says. “We were all singing along with her. That was a good afternoon.”