A terminally ill ex-forest ranger, who had been unable to venture outside for some years, had his dying wish fulfilled when hospice volunteers and the local fire department took him on his final visit to the great outdoors.
In his former years, Ed (his surname is unknown) enjoyed the country life, but after becoming sick he was unable to do the tasks that he previously was, confined to the interior of an adult family home.
He confessed to the chaplain of Evergreen Health Hospice in Washington, US, that he wanted to experience, just one more time, the feeling of being outside.
Chaplain Curt Huber then spoke to the rest of the staff before contacting the Snohomish County Fire District to see if they would be able to assist with transporting Ed in one of their emergency vehicles. They didn’t hesitate.
The volunteers escorted Ed to Meadowdale Beach Park - a 108-acre woodland park with a one-mile-long nature trail, an accompanying stream and saltwater beach.
The firefighters, chaplain and volunteers, took Ed on a small tour of the trails, “bringing him the scents of the forest by touching the fragrant growth and bringing their hands close to Ed’s face,” a statement on Evergreen Hospice’s Facebook page says.
“Ed was delighted. So were all the professionals who accompanied him,” the hospice added.
“People sometimes think that working in hospice care is depressing. This story, submitted by North Team program manager Diane Fiumara, BSN, demonstrates the depths of the rewards that caring for the dying can bring.”
Facebook users flooded the posting with their messages of support.
One said: "Thank you for treating this man with such gentle dignity."
Another said: "That is awesome - how often do we take for granted the ability to go outside? I didn't even think of this and yet it is so profound. I hope when I am elderly I will find myself surrounded by the same compassion and high regard for all life."