Siblings Angel Cerna and Maria Perry immigrated to the United States in the 1970’s from their home country, Peru. Despite having stayed in touch over the past three decades, 87 year-old Angel and 85 year-old Maria had not seen each other in 28 years. Their Wish of a Lifetime was to be together once again.
Angel and Maria started a new life in San Francisco in the late 1970’s, but after a few years, Maria moved to San Diego with her husband for work. Angel would regularly take the eight hour bus ride to visit his only sibling, but as time went on, he developed severe arthritis in his hands and feet. Neither of them could afford a plane ticket for regular visits, so they relied on weekly phone calls at precisely 10:30 every Sunday morning to keep in touch. Before their wish, Angel last saw Maria shortly after their mother had passed away, which was 28 years ago. Wish of a Lifetime learned of Angel’s wish through PK Management, the manager of his community in San Francisco and a supporter of Wish of a Lifetime.
Throughout his adult life, Angel has exhibited a passion for helping others by volunteering for various community organizations. In the 1980’s he volunteered for the San Francisco Suicide Prevention organization, helping educate people on life threatening illnesses and even taking the night shift on the Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Today, he’s a dedicated volunteer at a local community center for older adults. His kindness and affinity for helping others has earned him the nickname “The Building Angel.”
When asked what it would mean to Maria to see her brother again, she said, “It would make my life complete.” Thanks to Wish of a Lifetime and Little Brothers Friends of the Elderly, Angel and Maria reunited after nearly three decades. On June 21st, 2017, Angel and a bilingual volunteer from Little Brothers Friends of the Elderly flew from San Francisco to San Diego to spend four days with Maria. They laid flowers on their mother’s gravestone, enjoyed special meals together, and reminisced on their lives’ most special moments. During breakfast one morning, Chula Vista Councilmember Mike Diaz presented Angel and Maria a Certificate of Recognition, stating, “The City of Chula Vista welcomes you as you fulfill your “Wish of a Lifetime” on the occasion of your long awaited reunion with your sister Maria Perry.”
Photos by Love Life Photography