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Amey holds her best friends hand happily at the dinner table

Amey Reunites with Her Best Friend & Support System 

When Amey graduated from nursing school in 1975, she had no doubt that her passion was caring for others. She loved using the knowledge she gained in her courses, but the real joy came from helping her patients. For Amey, what started as a career would become her life’s work.

After graduation, Amey worked as an ER nurse for several years. Even though she loved her job, she decided to work part-time to spend more time with her son Matthew. Several years later, Amey gave birth to her son Zach.

Zach was born with cerebral palsy, and Amey was grateful to use her nursing background to care for her son. When Zach was old enough to enroll in school, she left her job in the hospital to become a nurse at his special education school.

Amey loved that she could spend time with Zach both at work and home, so when an opportunity arose to drive the school bus, she jumped on it. “I had him on my bus until he was 21 and graduated,” she said with a smile.

In addition to spending more time with Zach, Amey loved the bonds she built with the other students on her bus. One of those students was Britney, age 5, who Amey learned had a difficult home life and was about to enter the foster system. Three years after meeting Britney, Amey’s family grew again when she adopted Britney.

“She and Zach are very close,” Amey said. “They have always watched out for each other.”

Today, at age 70, Amey is a parent to five children. And she continues to drive the bus and bring students safely to and from school, recently celebrating 35 years with the school system.

At home, Amey is a caregiver to Zach and Britney, receiving help from an in-home caregiving service while she’s at work.

But where does Amey’s endless compassion for helping others come from? Along with her faith, Amey would tell you that it’s due to the support of her best friend for the last 40 years.

Amey describes her connection to Joyce as a “rare kind of friendship.” She and Joyce met in 1983 through their church in New York and instantly bonded. They loved each other’s company, but their shared experience of raising children with disabilities and the daily challenges of caregiving cemented their friendship.

“To have Joyce as my friend is so, so important,” Amey said. “When everything else is said and done… it’s really the people in your life that are the most important.”

The friends have been through it all together, staying close through the peaks and valleys of life. Joyce was the matron of honor at Amey’s wedding, and she stood by her side again as she navigated the dark time following her divorce. And Amey has been there for Joyce, supporting her through a difficult time after the death of her husband.

Over the years, their friendship continued to deepen, even after Amey moved 400 miles away to Rhode Island. Amey and Joyce have tried to see each other in person at least once a year since the move, but traveling has become too challenging for them in recent years, and the pandemic added an extra challenge.

“It’s one of those friendships where you just pick up where you left off,” Amey said, describing their connection during their times apart. “You would think we were sitting in the same room…We just start talking like we’ve never been apart.”

When Oak Street Health introduced Amey to us and we heard her story, we knew exactly what to do to recognize the compassionate and giving person she is today. It was time to reunite these friends! Wish of a Lifetime flew Joyce and her son to Rhode Island to visit Amey for the first time in five years.

As Joyce walked into the room, Amey greeted her with an enthusiastic, warm embrace—along with instant laughter and tears of joy.

“When I first saw her again… it’s hard to put into words,” she said. “But, you know when you just feel that comfortable with somebody? It was just beautiful. We gave each other the biggest hug; there were quite a few of those big hugs this week!”

Just as expected, the friends became lost in conversation. Throughout Joyce’s visit, she and Amey had the opportunity to spend time alone together, catching up over a lovely meal out of the home. And to try something new together, the group also took a trip to a local aquarium.

But what they enjoyed most was spending time at Amey’s home with the kids, playing games and laughing as if no time had passed at all.

“It was absolutely wonderful,” Joyce told Wish of a Lifetime. “I just can’t thank you enough. We both had a great time.”

It had been many years since Amey could focus on herself and her needs. She said Joyce’s visit put that into perspective for her.

“Even though I didn’t leave, it’s like what a vacation does for you! I feel revived again because it’s been difficult,” she said. “I needed this; I didn’t realize how much until after, but I just feel so much better. It’s wonderful!”

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Sponsor, Oak St. Health

We thank Oak Street Health for supporting Wish of a Lifetime from AARP. To learn more about sponsorship, please get in touch with Dana Rinderknecht.

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