90-year-old Dorothy grew up in New Hampshire. She recalls the many days of her childhood that she took trips to the beaches in Maine and the Carolinas. The tradition continued throughout her marriage. Her husband would always be sure to locate a beach before their travels knowing how much his dear Dorothy loved the water. When Dorothy’s husband developed Dementia, she became his full-time caregiver and trips to the ocean became few and far between. After her husband passed away, Dorothy swam at her local pool. However, five years ago, she was barred from going to the local pool because the staff feared for her safety. Despite her offense to this, she says it honestly was becoming difficult for her to get out of the water…but she’s never stop dreaming about the ocean.
Dorothy was an avid volunteer throughout her life. She volunteered with Project Pup and the Buddy Program for several years and was an 11th hour volunteer with Hospice for 20 years. Dorothy received the Points of Light Award from George W. Bush in 2002 for her commitment and impact in volunteering at hospice. Dorothy has experienced many losses in life including the loss her second daughter after many years of extensive health problems from the age of 13 to 57. This and the loss of her husband weighs heavily on Dorothy. She expresses that she, “feels like a different person when she is at rough-water east coast beaches,” because she forgets the grief she has experienced and focuses on relaxation and the good memories. When she’s in or near the beach, she says she doesn’t feel like a “wife or mother,” stuck in the roles she felt pain in, but feels she is “truly herself.”
Wish of a Lifetime and Brookdale Senior Living sent Dorothy and her companion, Suelyn, to a beach in Cape Canaveral, Florida in July. Dorothy says of the experience, “I walked in the ocean and put my toes in the water; my head was on a ship and my body was in reality.” She feels her trip was therapeutic and has improved her outlook on life and overall happiness. An especially great piece of the experience was the photographer, Carmen, from Carmela Blackwell Photography. Dorothy raves, “Your photographer is an absolutely lovely woman. She made me feel very special. She and Suelyn got in the water with me even though they don’t like it; they are selfless and thoughtful women. Deeply thoughtful.” Carmen’s kindness and enthusiasm matched the intentions of Wish of a Lifetime to honor older adults and their wishes. Dorothy reconnected with her emotional attachment to water and thought of memories at the beach from her childhood and later with her husband. Dorothy says she “loved every minute” of her wish and hopes other older adults can receive attention and have their wishes granted too.
Photography by: Carmen, Carmela Blackwell Photography