With such a lively spirit, one would never guess that Audrey is 92 years old. Though she now resides in Brookdale Destin in Florida, Audrey spent the majority of her life in New York. She worked as a typist in New York City for many years in a large company downtown, which provided her with many fond feelings towards the City that Never Sleeps. Audrey’s memories of the city are the reasons she wishes to go back, such as watching the ice skaters on the Plaza while waiting for her husband to get off work, going out to dinner and seeing Broadway shows with her coworkers and celebrating the holidays with her family by visiting Rockefeller Center. Although Audrey adored New York City, she moved on the night of her wedding to Wisconsin where her new husband planned to attend school.
After the big move, Audrey loyally moved around the country in order to follow her husband’s service in the Coast Guard before settling in Florida nearly 30 years ago. While she was there, she started volunteering at a hospital in a courier and soon found her work so fulfilling that she held the position for ten years. Aside from that, her and her husband had two children together—a son and daughter—who Audrey put first before anything. Her husband was deployed shortly after their son’s christening, and she wasn’t reunited with him for two years. Though Audrey made a new life for herself in Florida, she couldn’t escape the thought of New York City and the huge impact one place could have on her. Her one Wish would be to revisit New York to see how it has changed, while re-immersing herself in the atmosphere of a big city. More specifically, she wanted to see the Intrepid Museum in the Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood.
The Intrepid is an aircraft carrier which was active in the Pacific during WWII and afterward. Audrey’s son, Richard, served on the Intrepid as the pharmacist’s mate. He did two tours on the ship and had a very good experience in the Navy. Richard always had a variety of stories to share with Audrey, such as the time an incoming plane snapped a guidewire on the deck, which left many crewmembers injured to the point that her son had to administer stitches and other first aid duties. Eventually this sparked Richard to attend Rutgers University and earn his certification as a pharmacist. Through all of Richard’s successes, he unfortunately passed away, which left Audrey curious as to where he worked for such key years of his life.
“I’m very happy with my life, but this is one thing that I have always wanted to do,” said Audrey. The activities in her life that make her so content correspond with how active and social she is within her community. She is very mentally sharp, as she loves to paint, sew, play bridge and read history books to broaden her knowledge. Audrey loves people and feels that since she is in such considerably good health, she is in a good position to help others in whatever tasks she can. More than anything, Audrey’s Wish would be to share a trip with her daughter, who was always very close to Richard before his passing. This would be a dream come true for Audrey, as a visit to the Intrepid would bring her peace and closure.
On May 19, 2016, Wish of a Lifetime and Brookdale were thrilled to send Audrey and her daughter Beth to visit the Intrepid and spend a few days in New York. The incredible team at the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum rolled out the red carpet for Audrey and took her and Beth on a private tour hosted by one of the museum’s historians. They were given special access to the Sick Bay where Richard worked, where Audrey was surprised to discover that it was a little more than a “cubby hole”. She says that while she was there, she could imagine where Richard must have sat to write the letters he sent home to her and Beth telling them all about his excursions. Although some of his letters had more blacked out lines than words by the time they reached her, Audrey still cherishes each one. Richard’s letters came to life for Audrey during her time aboard the Intrepid. Before leaving the ship, Audrey and Beth were able to meet the President of the Intrepid Museum, who gifted them each a gold coin commemorating the ship’s 70th anniversary. For Audrey, the best surprise was when she was presented with a scrapbook, which exhibited two pictures of Richard during his service that she had never seen before. She looks forward to receiving copies of these photos from her new friends at the Intrepid and will hold on to them dearly to serve as memories of her son.
The Wish nominator, Audrey, exclaims, “She’s like a new woman [since the Wish]. She has been telling everybody that they treated her like a movie star!”
Photos courtesy of Erika Kapin Photograpy