Villa Marie Claire

A Stream of Visitors for a Wise Man

Terrence McCabe had lived a long life, filled with family, friends, drive and purpose. So when he didn't have a lot of time left, scores of people wanted to visit. They came to spend time with him, day and night, an almost ceaseless stream of those whose lives he touched.

"There were normally between five and 10 people at any given time, no matter the hour," said Dan McCabe, Terrence's son. "And everyone was always welcome at the Villa."

Dan was referring to Villa Marie Claire, a residential hospice facility nestled in a former estate in Saddle River, N.J., where Terrence spent nearly two weeks. Terrence, 84, was aware of his surroundings, at ease and engaged with loved ones talking and joking.

"For the majority of the time, my dad was conscious and very comfortable - the staff did an amazing job maintaining his comfort through the use of medicine," Dan said. "But when it wasn't necessary, they didn't overmedicate him either, which gave us an opportunity to speak and communicate with him."

Terrence first learned about the Villa when his sister was there in the spring of 2019. He was pleased with the level of care his sister received and although moving him to the Villa was a family decision, Dan said he believes his dad was content with that choice.

"We had several other options but after seeing my aunt at the Villa, we felt it was the right option, not only for him but for our family," Dan said. "The atmosphere at the Villa isn't one of a hospital. It isn't one of sickness. It's one of serenity, tranquility. And there are plenty of comfortable spaces for families to gather and enough space within the individual rooms to accommodate my family, which is a large one."

The McCabe family decided to move their patriarch into the Villa in the summer of 2019. Terrence had fallen about four years prior and broken his neck. The injury left him slightly paralyzed and though it took a long time to recover, Terrence did gain some use of his legs and had a couple of good years following the fall. But in early 2019, he became ill and never fully recovered. Once his decline was irreversible, the family moved him into hospice.

Terrence was a self-made man from the Bronx, putting himself through college and law school working on Manhattan's waterfront. He went on to have a stellar career and was a member of the U.S. Supreme Court bar. He practiced law for 50 years, retiring at 80 and gladly passing along nuggets of wisdom about everyday life he accumulated through the years.

"My father was an interesting character, "Dan said. "He was very tenacious and he never quit. If he wanted to accomplish something, he was going to put his mind to it and accomplish it. Throughout his life he helped many people make decisions about estate planning and end-of-life care. He was very accustomed to the different levels of care in hospitals and hospice centers. I think Villa Marie Claire is on a level of care all its own. I don't think there's anything like it and I think my dad would agree."