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John’s Hometown Memorial Day Celebration

For 100-year-old veteran John, home is truly where the heart is.

Throughout all the twists and turns in a century of experiences, John has lived his truth: home isn’t one place—it’s the people you love.

It all began in Maysville, MO, where John met his wife Lola, the love of his life, when they were only 12 years old.

When he enlisted in the Army, John’s path took him away to Basic Training in Kansas and then to Virginia, Arkansas, Texas, and North Carolina, where he served during World War II.

After the war, John returned to Maysville to build a family with Lola, surrounded by a tight-knit community that comes with small-town living.  But when their infant daughter’s health required a dry climate, they packed everything up and moved the family to Colorado practically overnight.

Together, in Colorado, they made a new, happy home. And they took the 700-mile-long road trip to Maysville every chance they could to see their loved ones.

Throughout the years, their visits became bittersweet as John faced the losses of his parents and all seven of his siblings.

And six years ago, John faced more heartbreak when his son passed away, followed by the loss of his beloved Lola after being her devoted caregiver for several years. Grieving these tremendous losses, John found solace in his daughter Darla and lived with her for three years.

John’s life changed dramatically once again when his health needs became more prominent. He made the necessary but difficult decision to move into a senior living community with more medical support, where Darla visits almost daily.

In a new place, new connections are difficult to make and are affected by his speech and hearing impairments. In this season of his life, surrounded by new faces, John has longed for the feeling of his first home.

We jumped at the opportunity to recognize this incredible centenarian when we heard John’s moving story. And we knew the perfect time and place to do so! With Wish of a Lifetime’s help, John would celebrate Memorial Day at the place where it all began: his beloved hometown of Maysville, Missouri.

“For the past few years, I could see my dad slipping each week. He was losing memories, energy, and movement,” Darla shared. But as her father’s wish drew near, she saw another side of him come to the surface.

Finally, the day was here, and John was surprised with a well-deserved hero’s sendoff at his living community. Friends and neighbors joyfully cheered and waved alongside the Wish of a Lifetime team as John’s family boarded an RV to embark on their journey to Maysville.

As they drove away, Darla saw her father’s face glowing with joy. It was a road trip full of quality time together spent sharing stories and making new memories.

And the destination was even more wonderful than John remembered!

Walking down the streets of his hometown, John experienced a rush of meaningful memories made over a lifetime with his loved ones. He spent time resting and soaking in the memories while watching folks setting up white crosses in recognition of fallen veterans in preparation for the Maysville Memorial Day celebration.

Sitting in front of City Hall, John was an honored guest, and he was warmly greeted by new and familiar faces, who welcomed him home and thanked him for his service. Surrounded by the warmth of community, he had the chance to meet other veterans and to pay his respects at the crosses bearing his brothers’ names.

At age 100, this visit home was a meaningful experience for John on many levels. But for his family, the positive effects of John’s wish have continued to bring them together.

“While in Maysville, the door to his memories was opened, and it was just meant to be,” Darla said. “Now, when we talk to him, he is more alert. We have more quality time together now.”

Donate in John’s honor

We need you. You can be the bridge to unbridled hope and joy.

A gift to Wish of a Lifetime in honor of John extends far beyond a donation. It will forever change John’s life and the lives of others like him.

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