While most of us do not really know when we are going to die, there have been a few with the privilege (or curse, depending on how you look at it) of getting an idea of when it was to happen. Those people, even with that harrowing thought of their eventual demise, made the most out of their remaining time, making last wishes that truly made an impact in the lives of the people whom they were about to leave. Here are some of the most heart-warming last wishes of recent years.
10. Dying Boy Donates Toys to Hospital Kids
Nathan Garcia was a Southern Californian boy who died of brain cancer on December 19, 2012, just two days after celebrating his 13th birthday. Nathan was diagnosed with his cancer in September of 2011. Even after surgery and chemotherapy, he was never really able to fully recover. With his condition getting worse by the day, and knowing that the inevitable was about to come, Nathan decided what he wanted for his 13th, and possibly last, birthday. He wanted to give thousands of toys to other kids in the hospital he was confined in, just in time for the Yuletide season. He and his family began collecting toys, and local news outlets picked up on the toy drive and ran articles about Nathan’s last wish.
Through donations from the local community, Nathan and his family were able to gather nearly 4,000 toys. Nathan would have wanted to distribute the toys himself, but he was too weak to do so. Two days after he passed away, volunteers came in to pick up the toys that Nathan and his family collected and distributed it to the children in Nathan’s hospital, fulfilling Nathan’s last wish.
9. Dying Girl Dances with her Boyfriend One Last Time in the Hospital
In some ways, Brett Marie Christian was just like any other 15-year-old girl. She loved Facebook, cartoons, and always looked forward to school dances. What set her apart from other girls her age was that she had been battling leukemia since she was 11. In spite of that, the bond between her and her special friend Treyton remained strong. He would visit her daily at the hospice she was in, where they watched TV, talked, and had their first kiss.
During one visit in 2010 where Treyton was accompanied by his parents, Brett divulged to Treyton’s mom that she had been looking forward to her school’s homecoming, wanting to have one last dance with Treyton. She had even already purchased a dress. Knowing that the frail girl might not make it, Treyton and Brett’s moms made an effort to bring the homecoming to her hospice instead. On September 4, 2010, along with family, friends, and 50 other classmates, Brett and Treyton had their last dance, fulfilling her final wish. She would pass away that very evening.
8. Homeless Man is Reunited with His Dog Just Before Passing
Dogs are said to be a man’s best friend. That is certainly true for Kevin McClain, a 57-year-old Cedar Rapids, Iowa native whose last wish was to see his dog. McClain was homeless and lived in his car with his dog, Yurt. In May 2011, he became sick with lung cancer; paramedics had to rush him to the hospital and then to the hospice, while Yurt was brought to an animal shelter. While McClain was being carried from the ambulance gurney to the hospital bed, he told one of the paramedics, Jan Erceg, that he had a dog and wished to see her.
As it turned out, Erceg was also volunteering for the animal shelter where Yurt ended up being. This paved the way for the hospice and the shelter to work together to fulfill McClain’s dying wish. He was reunited with his dog one last time. People who witnessed the touching reunion said that there was instant recognition, with Yurt licking her owner in the arms and in the face. It was a simple wish that meant everything for a man who barely had anything. McClain would die two days after the reunion.
7. Boy Hits an Impossible Home Run for Grandpa
83-year-old Frank Sabo and his teenage grandson Jonathan loved baseball. During their last conversation before Sabo passed away, all they talked about was Jonathan’s upcoming baseball tournament. He asked his grandson for a home run. Jonathan was hesitant, knowing that he was not very big and strong, and home runs in wood-bat tournaments are a rarity anyway. Add to that the fact that they were going to play in a minor league field, which was obviously bigger than the fields they are used to playing, and a home run seemed highly improbable.
Sabo passed away on July 21, 2012. Three days after his death, though, the miraculous home run happened. Standing at the plate with three balls and two strikes, Jonathan swung his bat and nailed the home run, the only one in the game. Tears began streaming down his cheek as he ran around the bases. When he touched the home plate, he looked up the sky, knowing that he has fulfilled his grandpa’s last wish. The funeral was held a day after the game, and Jonathan gave the game ball to his late grandfather. Written on the ball were the words, “To the best grandpa ever, I love you. Rest in peace.”
6. Teenage Girl Requests a Pumpkin Spice Latte, Inspires Random Acts of Kindness Worldwide
Alyssa O’Neill’s last wish was rather simple. The 18-year-old Erie, Pennsylvania native only wished for a Starbucks pumpkin spice latte. Unfortunately, she died of epileptic seizure on September 4, 2013 before she even got her wish. The events afterward are what made her story really inspiring.
Because of her untimely death, her parents were not able to grant her wish. So they decided to buy 40 pumpkin spice lattes for strangers, two days after her funeral. They only asked the Starbucks baristas to write her initials, AJO, on the cups. Touched by their move, the baristas bought another 50 lattes with her initials, and distributed them to random people. Soon, the AJO movement went viral and became a worldwide movement, reaching as far as Iceland and South Korea. The AJO movement extended beyond buying cups of coffee, as some began buying meals for others while some paid for random people’s bills, all in the name of Alyssa J. O’Neill. It’s amazing how a sickly girl’s simple request for a cup of latte inspired people to perform acts of kindness that touched the lives of thousands
5. Local Businessman Makes it Rain $10,000
Don’t you sometimes wish for money to just fall from the sky? For most of us, that’s pure wishful thinking, but for diners at Irish Eyes Pub and Restaurant in Lewes, Delaware, it became a reality in August 2013.
It was just another day for diners and workers in the aforementioned restaurant when all of a sudden, they began to see what appeared to be dollar bills literally falling from the sky. When they realized it was real money, everybody rushed to gather as much as they could. As it turned out, this bizarre occurrence was the last wish of a local man named Leonard Maull, who died in 2012. Maull was an operator of a bait-and-tackle shop in Lewes. His accountant confirmed that he included in his last will the order to rain down $10,000 of his own money, broken up in $5, $10, $20, and $50 increments, for the benefit of total strangers. A helicopter was used to drop the cash, much to the amazement and delight of everyone who witnessed it. No picture was taken when it happened because apparently, everyone was too busy collecting money.
4. Condemned Man Requests Pizza for the Homeless
Philip Workman was a Tennessee native who was convicted of shooting and killing a cop when he tried to rob a fast food joint in 1981. He was homeless at that time, addicted to cocaine, and attempted the robbery so he could pay for his next high. He was placed on death row in a Nashville prison and, in the Spring of 2007, was about to be executed. His request for his final meal was for a vegetarian pizza to be donated to a homeless person within the vicinity. Prison officials refused because, according to them, they don’t donate to charities.
Thankfully, this got out in the news and local residents more than willingly shelled out money from their own pocket to fulfill Workman’s last wish. One woman asked her friends to chip in, and they were able to buy $1,200 worth of pizzas that was sent to Nashville’s Rescue Mission center. The president of PETA, having heard the story, also contributed with 15 boxes of veggie pizzas. Soon enough, several people sent pizzas anonymously to other shelters in Nashville, all in the name of Philip Workman. There is indeed good in everyone, even in a convicted murderer on death row. The jury’s still out on those prison officials, though.
3. 11-year-Old Boy Wishes to Feed the Homeless
Ask a lot of people what they would do if they only had two weeks to live, and the most likely responses would involve personal gratification, like going to places they’ve never been or indulging in their favorite meals. Brenden Foster, however, was very different. This 11-year-old boy was diagnosed with leukemia and, when asked about his last wish in December 2007, he didn’t request to go to Disneyland or meet his favorite celebrity. Instead, his last wish was to simply feed the homeless.
This very unselfish wish touched the hearts of a lot of locals, who began a food drive as fulfillment to the boy’s dying wish. Over 2,500 meals were served at the Union Rescue Mission in Seattle in Brenden’s honor. On the paper bags that contained the meals, volunteers wrote “Love, Brenden” as a way to keep his legacy alive. While Brenden was too weak to participate in the distribution of foods, he was at least able to live long enough to see his wish come true, before eventually dying in the arms of his mother.
2. Dying 8-Year-Old Boy “Marries” Sweetheart
Reece Fleming and Elleanor Pursglove had been friends since they were little. Reece had always had a crush on Elleanor, and had expressed desire to marry her. He had actually asked her several times before, despite them being toddlers at the time. In 2004, he was diagnosed with leukemia; in 2008, when he was told he only had a few weeks to live, he was determined to make his long-time wish of marrying Elleanor happen. He popped the question to her one more time, and she finally said yes.
The “wedding” happened in July 2008. The little bride arrived by a limousine, as the groom waited in his home. By that time, Reece was already really weak, but his determination was what kept him going in fulfilling this last wish of his. He gave her a red rose and they exchanged vows and rings in front of their mothers. They even had a marriage certificate signed. The little groom just laid in bed after the ceremony, feeling completely at peace. He turned to his mom and said, “Mom, I can go now.” He died the following day.
1. A $500 Tip That Turned into a Viral Phenomenon
Aaron Collins of Kentucky, USA committed suicide in July 2012. His family discovered his written last wish, which was to give a $500 tip to a waiter or a waitress. His family carried it out by handing the tip to a waitress in a pizza restaurant in Lexington, Kentucky. This heart-warming gesture was caught on video, and became a viral sensation. Aaron’s brother, Seth originally planned to do it one time only, but with support pouring in worldwide, it became a mission.
Today, there is a website dedicated to Aaron Collins. They have so far received over $60,000 in donations from all over the globe. The website has all the videos of his brother giving away $500 tips to waiters and waitresses throughout the United States. As of this writing, and over a year after Aaron’s death, Seth has given money to 87 unsuspecting waiters and waitresses, and it is still going on. Seth’s goal is to give $500 tips in all 50 US states before Christmas this year, in honor of his brother Aaron. Christmas is only a few days away, but he’s almost there.