Cathy Thomas and Katherine "KC" McNaughton

Recorded November 15, 2019 Archived March 7, 2020 27:27 minutes
0:00 / 0:00
Id: lsk002311


Cathy Thomas (72) speaks with her niece and goddaughter Katherine "KC" McNaughton (22). Katherine shares how she became involved in hospice care as a volunteer and about her life and studies.


  • Cathy Thomas
  • Katherine "KC" McNaughton

Venue / Recording Kit


StoryCorps uses Google Cloud Speech-to-Text and Natural Language API to provide machine-generated transcripts. Transcripts have not been checked for accuracy and may contain errors. Learn more about our FAQs through our Help Center or do not hesitate to get in touch with us if you have any questions.

00:00 I am not recording. So if you would read o

00:06 Do I order she okay?

00:09 I'm Cathy time to I'm 72 years old today is November 15th in the year 2019 and we are recording this at hospice of Petaluma Petaluma, California and I am Catherine but everyone else calls are Casey. I'm the only one that concert Catherine. It's true. I'm her godmother her aunt.

00:33 What's the reciprocal of that? Yeah, I'm Casey McDonald. I'm 22 years old today is November 15th 2019. We're here at hospice of Petaluma and my aunt and my

00:54 What time do it you got the question if I didn't print it out?

01:00 Okay. Why and how did you become involved in?

01:03 Stacy well, it was all three you obviously you.. Point been working with them for 20 some odd years, and I don't really remember my exact motivations. That's why I joined.

01:22 God it's by Mike Will five years, which five years is 5 years ago. We were having I think a lot of intense conversations about fears about death. I don't know if you particularly remember but we were at Joe and Katie wish my cuz is my cousin's wedding and everyone was going out for drinks and I was 16 at the time. So you and me hung back at the hotel and I think you stuck me a beer and talked about test for a long time. I know they're individual beds and talked about that and I think I did at the time had a lot of fears not so much about me dying, but the people around me die and so I saw volunteering for hospice has an opportunity to maybe dispel some of the fears I had about that at the time. So then you

02:22 Going to put me in contact with the people here at hospice at to join the volunteer program, which I pursued I don't think so. I think I just did a 454 fun, but for my own personal growth not for anything I had to do for school, but

02:46 I did get out of high school. Did you go to it, which was always a purse, but I think I tried joining the volunteer program in 2013, and I was 16 at the time.

03:01 And I had to get

03:05 Yeah permission for my principal at the time cuz I was going to miss school on Mondays, but my principal told me that you know people kill people on hospice so I couldn't do it but this is the first I've heard really I never told you about this but he's the one that you know got fired for Stolen Valor for claiming he was a marine even though he wasn't so we're not going to take his opinion very much. Heart. So he was fired and Southern the following year. They let me do it and they were really supportive of me doing that. So that was 2014 the fall I joined the volunteer program and we did that training and also you can say it's it's like 10 weeks maybe.

03:58 Yeah, something like that on my day so that I don't really know exactly what that process was going to look like and I'd all the same fears I had before entering and I hadn't at that point lost too many people close to me. So I tell it extremely under-qualified. But I think a lot of the training is just working on your sense of vulnerability and reflecting back on times and hard times in your life. So it is just kind of

04:33 Working on empathy as if it were skilled and you practicing cuz that's I think what you need to draw the most when you're working with patients or as a grief counselor. Say, oh that's

04:48 Without the question was that the answer to the question it is I think it is definitely a skill that can be refined in the people that work here have really honed in on it and are Masters in their craft. They're coughing up to see if that's okay.

05:15 Catherine tell me what was your volunteer volunteer training experience like because I'll draw on experience there my first the first day of training I thought it was here at hospice of Petaluma, but it was Memorial Hospice in Santa Rosa. So I was 30 minutes late to the first training and I was in school at this point, you know, and I was really ready to be reprimanded for obviously cuz I was late and then West soon as I got there and whatever there was a break Allison came up to me. She like everything. Okay. Are you okay? I know it's not fun to be late. And that's what I knew. You know, this was not going to be anything like school fees were good people, you know that you know that feeling of being late.

06:15 Is nobody likes to be true, so

06:20 That I think was a really good indicator of what was to come there. And that was just yet practicing empathy and being patient with one another and being present and I think

06:31 They have a seam every year and my year was transparency and practicing that specifically and so there was so we talked a lot about seems a vulnerability and being present with the people we'd be working with and those are you know, if all the time so I think on the things I learned during that training.

07:01 Grand

07:04 Well, you chosen?

07:09 Path in life at this point in time is Anthropologie. Yes, and you decided that you wanted to do this from watching the television program bones.

07:22 So, how was that and how was it instrumental in ending Josie? Choosing your career college path? Yeah, I think I've been really fortunate that. I know what I wanted to do for a very long time. I know plenty of people that have graduated college and they're still not clear if they should have ever declared. No being 9 years old and when people would ask me, you know, what I want to be when I grow up. I want to be a forensic anthropology what I wanted to do and so

08:04 That was always a part of me and I think before I actually started studying anthropology. I saw it in my mind being a Good anthropologist meant being objective which in part I think is true. You do be easy to understand how the culture you're accustomed to is obscure in its own ways. And you're not taking everything for face value at you know, everything you do has cultural value like for example,

08:39 Like when you see the doctor, you know, that's just as ritualistic the fact they wash their hands when they walk in or wear a white Co I mean that all has cultural significance, but we just think of it as you know, going to the doctor, but it's just as a culture rated, I guess as you know a witch doctor, you know in another part of the world, so I saw the world in such a way and objective way and I thought that was what was most important about being an anthropologist and I was always something I was trying to work on for the next 10 years of my life before I entered college that was always part of me, but now I'm saying

09:26 You have to be equally as subjective and understand that you play a role in your own research when you're doing at their apology and that requires a significant amount of vulnerability, I guess.

09:41 And yeah, I think that was there was a lot. I don't know an emergency and postmodern anthropology where an anthropologist played as much of a role in their own research as the people you're researching like.

09:57 I don't know how I got to go stop at the knobs talking about it like archaeologists. You know, what do you think you're looking at the stratification of you know, any looking at the history through layers of dirt like when you're doing the excavation and you drop say some of your lunch, you know, like some bread crumbs your part of the archaeology at that. There's no denying that and I think up until that point until the turn of the century or email that

10:30 Anthropologists were focusing on being objective when removing themselves from their work when they very much are apart of the work and that all over the place back to hospice you, you know, when you're doing hospice work say you're working with a patient or you're working as a grief counselor. You are as much part of this interaction is the person, you know, you're trying to help so to speak in your drawing on your own.

11:00 Experiences when you're doing kind of that work. I think it's really easy to take a cold Observer roll when you're uncomfortable. But the best kind of work is acknowledging the role you have in the work you're doing and connecting with a person on the real human level. And I think that's the best kind of work in this field and best work kind of work. You could do an anthropologist.

11:26 So your user your training helped you in OSHA for sure because turn off to college very shortly after but for sure lessons I'm going to be drawing out for a really long time. What was your experience like with your future care client? Oh, yeah.

11:54 It was good as it ever could be we mostly I can I was seventeen at the time by the time I was actually working with a client and I was in an assisted care Living Center and

12:11 You know, I had a lot of worries about that too. Like what is a seventeen-year-old to do a lot of what I was doing was just seeing us sitting down and working on crossword puzzles with this person. That was it and I would leave feeling you know, like what comes I help at all but that was not apparently the feedback hospice was getting in the person was really appreciative that because love you. There were incredible nurses working at this facility, you know nurses are like I think some of the most grossly underpaid people in the most overworked people, but it's really fast pace in these facilities and because they're so overworked. They don't really have an opportunity to just sit down with her patients, you know and deliver really

13:00 Like

13:02 I'm not slow care, but it's just not not fast pace care. So I think that was good for that person for you know, very young person at the time to just sit down with them and take the time to do something is seemingly unimportant as a crossword puzzle. And so that's what we did. She thought you were the greatest hits me out of the berries. Can you even say that gender is HIPAA going to come for us?

13:35 I don't know. It's okay. Well actually it while you were doing this Direct Care you you had to leave to take on your first European adventure to Africa the first European Adventure. Yeah, I went to Tanzania for a couple months when I yeah when I turn 18

14:09 Trying to say yeah, so that's what I did and the what I did there was at first I worked for an AIDS NGO that was

14:24 About the focus on grant writing in procuring like microfinance loans for people living with HIV in their community and that was less than great. Because what the hell is that going to do to help it was it was a lot and then there's pretty disorganized and one of the people higher up there died while I was there. So it was a bit disorganized and that way I said that my friend that I'm at while I was there was going back to the United States. So I I took a I took his position working out of primary school in the Village Arkansas t-shirt and there they just give you a costume of kid, so I had like twelve 6 year olds and I poke you

15:24 Teach them English Swahili, and I don't speak Swahili.

15:36 I didn't go great to say the least those children deserved better than that, but it was a really interesting lesson. I think we especially I don't know when you're young you want to help and you want to be a citizen of the world, but you're just not quite sure how and

16:04 In trying to help and having you know, the best attention the heart it always works out in practice singing got a lot cuz I said he specifically medical anthropology the same thing. I think that American Health Care where you have just some of the most wonderful people with the best intentions at heart but Healthcare limits Diner privatized Healthcare limits them to not be able to do all the work they want to do for the sake of you. Don't cut it cost and you know the tensions I felt when I was there I can see elsewhere and Healthcare and I really interests me Africa either one of those things. I'll probably spend like the next 20 years of my life reframe a free thinking about hopefully with help of a therapist nearby, but

16:56 I don't know if I'll be able to return it.

17:03 I don't know.

17:05 Develop some new experiences in San Simeon.

17:11 That was not the answer you were expecting was it?

17:17 Okay, great. Okay. So now getting back to your European travel. That was fun. So tell us about that and how did you manage to study and keep up your great with your your fabulous grades? And yeah, well this time last year. I really just hated my job and hate it going to school didn't much care for my apartment either. So I said the hell with it. I'm just going to quit take out a student loan at backpack Europe for I did that and I was gone for seven to eight months number to 15 different countries and I got to say

18:06 Backpacking Europe is a lot funner than going to Tanzania alone. And I did it under the guys. I like studying abroad but really I was just messing around to like taking some classes but it was it was a ton of fun and very life-affirming. I mean you ought to do it while you still can you physically can I think people wait to retire then and then we're going to know you're up and then they never do so I figured do it now while I still could but I got the I got the travel bug.

18:46 And

18:49 What about your trip to Asia to just she just looks good with you came back for a couple weeks. Okay. Yeah. Yeah. So what I did, well, I was in Europe. I was presented with an opportunity to go to an archaeological dig in Ireland, but I was already coming home. So I came home to Sonoma County for a couple weeks and then I returned to us and I did I participated in an excavation from

19:23 The Middle Ages called Black friary

19:28 And it's a sight. Yeah from the Middle Ages that you notice all three, but the solution of the monasteries and was absolutely destroyed but beneath it, you know, where all of the graves

19:44 From that time so during that time you could pay the exorbitant amount of money to be buried beneath the church in hopes that the people above you would be praying for your Immortal soul. And you have a higher chance of entering Heaven if you were buried beneath the church, so that's what we're doing because the grocery store near by really wanted to make a parking lot out of that space.

20:13 So we had to excavate the remains of these people. So that's what we did. It was pretty remarkable in a little bit shocking how many people they managed to bury their because he know everyone wanted to be buried beneath the church. So you would find the remains of five people all kind of intermingle. All right next to each other. So that's that's what we did. It was really exciting work if I could not that anyone's asking you to but I'm still going to relate to my hospice work.

21:01 It was you know.

21:03 Like unearthing the dead is really loaded and a lot of people would take issue with that and understandably. So so you kind of want to approach that work with the utmost consideration to those people. I don't think these people who are obviously very religious.

21:29 Take us to trade in someone hundreds of years later with a septum piercing a lots of tattoos potty mouth was.

21:42 Beaver in mind for when I was doing the work and be really careful and know a lot about osteology and the remains I was working with him. I thought if I came from a level not necessarily expertise cuz I'm not on that level but

22:02 With the most knowledge I could and I continue to

22:09 Studying my bones. So therefore I was delivering not in this case the best care but the best work that could work ethic I could when it came to that, you know and respect to the people I was

22:24 Unearthing and it takes, you know a full full week to you and I'll go you know, you know take you know arts and crafts brushes and take a bone bone by bone and bag them and clean them you need to take all the dirt off and you take a toothbrush and you clean off all the dirt or text. You have a good week to between two people to do an entire body which felt to me a lot more respectful than

22:56 Berrington bodies with one another and then you know, there's a bunch of Great Cuts pee a lot of people are missing different parts of their body because you know the gravedigger Raja kind to their body to bury someone else the pain to be there. So I still felt it was Noble work, and I'm so looking forward to continuing to do that work.

23:18 You show your empathy.

23:24 So what are your feet for your future educational plans? Yeah, that's the big question. I graduate in spring. So I guess this on a daily basis the plan is to

23:42 I really do believe that you got to travel. I still can so I'm going to graduate I want to go to Southeast Asia for a few months. And then I am going to take some time to really think about the things I want to study and I actually do have a specific interest in death in the anthropology of death cuz they're actually is pretty limited published research on this topic affects everyone. So I plan to go to grad school and I'm hoping to find a program that drives with the kind of work I've been doing in for

24:21 The past couple years. I've been kind of working on and grappling with some ideas about how bipartisan politics and you know, it's it's pretty loaded right now affect end-of-life care decisions cuz I think all the choices we make passed through, you know, our partisan identities in our eyes until why would Health Care decisions be any different, you know, and I specifically interested and yeah, like I don't like her decisions and I think

25:01 In death, you really hope the choices you make capture the person you were when you were living. And so I think I'm from what I noticed. And of course it's if it's really nascent stages. A lot of people are better left leaning.

25:23 Choose more palliative care methods. Where is people that are right leaving in this isn't American politics shoes intravenous methods when it comes to health care and there's very little publish research. So I'm hoping you know, it'll find a university that's interested in what I have to say and how to say the one I mentioned. I don't know interested in me pursuing us in our building to fund it. So that's that's the plan anyways, but

25:58 We'll see what happens. I might just you and I joined the expat community in Vietnam so you can check back in that.

26:10 Nothing new about you. What's up? What you just said? Sorry. Is there anything that I haven't asked you? I think we just about covered it again. I'm 22. I don't have a lot to say I'm very amazed that people out here today to listen to what I have to say. So I appreciate you taking the time and having an interest in anything. I have to say so hopefully

26:42 We are at the age of 22 you have had more life experiences than some people at the age of 82. That's a tragedy.

26:57 Well

27:00 Would you like to do this again sometime? I hoped you progress with your studies and your

27:06 Exotic light up. I hope I have a lot more to share with you. So yes, I'd be open to in the future. This is just the beginning.

27:17 Yeah.

27:21 Thank you, my love. Yeah. Thank you.