Samaritan staff members gathered at the Alma Pastega Healing Garden last week to surprise members of Jared Pastega’s family with the dedication of a bench in his honor.
“I am so touched and overwhelmed,” said Barbara Holt-Moore the mother of Jared. The slate bench along with a lantern, rests just to the north of a water feature flowing below the heart-shaped plaque honoring Jared’s grandmother, Alma.
Pastega died while on a training run for his first marathon. He had been planning to compete in a marathon in Rome with his father, Ken and sister, Gina, as a celebration of his 40th birthday.
“The bench that we dedicated enables us not only to remember Jared but also honor the family, their connection to the hospital, to the cancer center as well as the Pastega House,” said Laura Hennum, Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center CEO.
The memorial was the brainchild of members of the Samaritan leadership team. The slate is notched into golden rock-designed mounts in front of a stone inscribed with “In Loving Memory of Jared Romano Pastega.”
“It’s a place I will come to and feel Jared,” said Holt-Moore. “I love that the mountain is there, the water, the light, it’s him.”
One feature of the area dedicated is a lantern that includes a white candle, which can be illuminated at night.
“We talk about Jared being the light for our whole family,” said Holt-Moore. “He was the light that would ignite the rest of us to accomplish and do things, and he always had a smile.”
After brief remarks by Good Samaritan Hospital Foundation Director Darrel Kau, family members took turns sitting on the bench while visiting with staff and friends. Throughout the dedication a hummingbird would fly between trees and plants in the garden.
“Hummingbirds to us represent Jared,” said Holt-Moore, who shared that he once took an animal spirit quiz that identified the hummingbird as his spirit animal.
“He was also a helicopter pilot and when I see the helicopters go over to the hospital I’m yelling ‘Hi Jared,’” Holt-Moore said.
Since the bench is outside of the Pastega house it is open for public visits.
“We hope that all of Jared’s family, his friends and our many houseguests for years to come will find this a peaceful and soothing place here in the Alma Garden,” said Kau.