Granting one last wish

Sherleyn Hornick and Sarah Meeker fulfill wishes of hospice patients at Good Samaritan Society - Ottumwa in Ottumwa, Iowa.

Fulfilling the wishes of hospice patients has become a calling for Sherelyn Hornick and Sarah Meeker. Sherelyn is a hospice nurse, and Sarah is the activities director at Good Samaritan Society – Ottumwa in Ottumwa, Iowa.

The two women have made it their mission to grant patients one last wish. It began in May of 2022 when Sherelyn came to Sarah with the idea. And now, after helping three patients, their program has a name – Agape – based on the love of Christ and the unmerited and underserved grace he gives.

“We have big goals, and we’re doing it in stages,” Sarah explains. “Our goal would be to eventually reach those receiving hospice in their homes.”

A fishing excursion

The first wish they granted was for patient David Steen. Sherelyn learned he wanted to go fishing one last time.

She told Sarah about his desire, and the pair made plans for the outing using funds from Sarah’s activity budget. When they shared the news with David, he was excited.

“The smile on his face was tremendous,” says Sarah. “Every time you saw him, he’d ask about it.”

The day came, and they took David to Pioneer Ridge. He didn’t catch any fish, but he made a lot of memories while enjoying the sunshine and fresh air.

A cruise around town

Larry Miller was another hospice patient who had a wish. He wanted to take one last ride in his sporty 1972 Plymouth Duster.

Sherelyn arranged for Larry’s brother, Verlin, to bring the vehicle to the Ottumwa location. Larry climbed into the passenger seat, and the brothers enjoyed a drive around town and to Lake Wapello.

Larry’s face said it all. He was happy to sit in his car again. Sherelyn and Sarah were thankful that he could enjoy something familiar and comforting.

A meal with his wife and best friend

The third wish they’ve been able to grant was a special meal for Jimmy Spears. He wanted to enjoy a canteen (loose meat sandwich), a chocolate milkshake and a piece of cherry pie with his wife, Mary, and his best friend, Ed Schultz.

Jimmy and his wife have been married for 57 years, and he and Ed have been friends for 68 years. The trio raised their glasses as they enjoyed their time together, talking about a lifetime of memories.

A chance to make a difference

With each wish Sherelyn and Sarah have helped fulfill, they say everyone has been receptive.

“Oftentimes, it’s something simple, which seems to be more what people want,” Sherelyn states. “They like the comfort of doing something they enjoyed in the past, and the families have been very excited about this.

“It’s the last wish of the resident, but it’s also the family’s last hoorah,” says Sarah. “It makes a nice memory for them.”

The women feel like they’ve learned a lot from patients as they’ve fulfilled their wishes. They’re grateful to be the hands and feet of God as they care for them.

Sarah explains. “It’s us trying to show the love of Christ to each resident in a way that they appreciate.”

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