Everyone dreams, no matter what their age. But as our life progresses, sometimes we let go of even our fondest dreams. At Marquis, we say, don’t even think about letting go. We believe as long as there are still things you want to do, there’s always time to write a new chapter.
What follows are some stories we were privileged enough to help bring to the pages of some extraordinary people’s lives. From flying an airplane, to a hole-in-one, to hot air ballooning, these dreams were finally realized.
Esther had three wishes in life. First, she wanted to go to Hawaii. She accomplished that goal when she lived there for three years after Pearl Harbor, making airplanes for the government.
Her next wish was to go to Spain, so she took her granddaughter there to show her where her grandfather had come from.
Her third wish? She wanted to go on a helicopter ride. On June 20th, 2007, she got to do just that. The skies were crystal clear and perfect for a flight through the Columbia Gorge and around Crown Point. The pilot even rolled the helicopter to the side a bit for Esther to get a better vantage of things below. Once they’d been up in the air for a while, he asked her if she’d like to take the helm. “Oh no,” she replied, “you’re doing just fine.”
Esther wasn’t afraid for a moment on the flight, and she still lights up when she talks about her helicopter ride that sunny day in June. She’ll always remember those stunning views and the beautiful day she spent with her head in the clouds.
If it was up to 77-year-old Margie Hefner, she would still be a nurse working the late shift at Oregon City Hospital. Margie was head of the nursing department there when she suffered a devastating stroke at the age of 42. The stroke cut her career short and forced her to relearn everyday tasks like walking, talking and writing.
Because her past nursing career evokes such fond memories, the Hope Village staff found a way for Margie to relive the past. As part of the New Chapters Program, they arranged for Margie to tour Willamette Falls Hospital. Margie arrived at the hospital wearing an old-fashioned nursing cap and a wide grin. The hospital administrator took her on an extensive tour of the facility, including the birthing center.
Margie once worked in the birthing department and never had any children of her own, so this was a particularly special part of the tour. Her eyes lit up when she entered the nursery and stretched her hand toward a sleeping newborn just above her wheelchair. For a moment she watched through the glass crib as the newborn’s peaceful breathing pattern hypnotized her. All she could say was “unbelievable.”
Tom Smith, a 77-year-old resident of Marquis Care at Piedmont, has always told stories of his racing days. “Smitty,” as he was known, began racing cars in his teen years – mostly midget cars and sprint cars. It seems he spent his entire youth with cars – racing at the tracks, building them, even winning the 1955 Minnesota State Fairgrounds Racing Championship.
On Saturday, October 21, 2006, Tom received the chance to relive his racing days. With Piedmont staff by his side, Tom attended the 30th Annual 2006 Cascade Enduro Races at Portland International Raceway. Thanks to Cascade Sports Car Club president Gary Brockman, Tom was able to visit with a few of the race car drivers in the racing pit and even took a ride around the track at 89 mph in a Viper pace car. His first words to the driver? “Turn up the throttle.”
Once he was a spectator again, Tom watched as the races got started. He loved hearing the loud engines and smelling the burned rubber as the tires took the tight corners. His expert racing eyes immediately focused on a bright yellow car, #16, as the one to beat. And as the cars raced around the final corner, a glimmer came to Tom’s eyes. As #16 crossed the finish line first, he knew he hadn’t lost his touch.
The first Mustang car sold in Portland, Oregon roared off the lot with 43-year-old Hank Mangold behind the wheel. This started 15 years of family fun. Hank still enjoys swapping Mustang stories with medical aid Tracy Thompson, who has taken him for a spin in her green Mustang convertible.
One rainy day in November 2006, a maroon 1965 Mustang convertible driven by a local Mustang Club member arrived to take Hank and Yvonna, his wife of 60 years, for a spin. Even a rainy day couldn't dampen the spirits of this happy couple driving in style to revisit Portland's Council Crest neighborhood. The couple saw their old home where they lived for 38 years and visited many other familiar places. This special event ended with lunch at the Hillsdale McMenamins, one of the local restaurants the couple used to visit.
Over a sandwich and beer the couple shared many happy stories. After Hank entered Marquis Care at Wilsonville, the couple never expected to revisit their old neighborhood again. Because of the New Chapters Program, which brings dreams to life, the couple had an extraordinary day. After arriving home, Yvonna told everyone "this was perfect."
Ever since Mae Cooper was a little girl she wanted to fly an airplane. When she saw an airplane for the first time, she told her father, “One of these days I’m going to fly one of those!”
At the age of 89 and with the help of the Marquis Care at Hope Village staff, Mae achieved her dream.
The sun shone, the Canby Herald reporter arrived, and KOIN Channel 6 interviewed her. Mae’s big day was part of the Marquis New Chapter program, a program that makes dreams come true for the residents of Marquis facilities.
First the cameraman positioned himself in the back seat. Then Mae was helped into the cockpit and fitted with the headphones. Then the pilot, Phil Fogg Sr, taxied to the runway and they were off.
Upon landing, Mae described the event as unforgettable. She said she wasn’t scared. “It takes a lot to scare me, “she said. “…a lot.”
Mae’s feet are back on the ground now, but she still holds tightly to her brief moment in the clouds.
On Friday, April 7, 2006, Molly Hilton, 66, was queen for a day. She donned a pink boa, tiara and was pampered with food, shoe shopping and a few hours at the salon. It was part of Marquis Care at Shaw Mountains’ program to make dreams come true for its residents.
Hilton suffers from multiple sclerosis and cannot speak well, but her face expressed her excitement and her eyes were brighter all day.
“Molly is kind to everyone who works here and she’s very deserving of this. Anyone who suffers from MS knows it’s not a fun disease. It takes over your entire life. But she insists it won’t take over hers,” said a Marquis Caregiver. “She goes out shopping and has fresh flowers in her room everyday….her nickname is Queen Molly because she has such a vibrant personality.”
On Queen Molly’s day, she was treated to lunch at Jaker’s Bandara Grill; Montage Salon did her hair and make-up, and gave her a manicure. Then, finally, every queen’s necessity: shoe shopping where she got to pick out any pair of shoes she wanted, and the store donated the pair.
Queen for a day, indeed.
Setsuko (Sue) Cousin, a native of Japan, moved to America 50 years ago after meeting her husband, Roy, in Tokyo. She embraced life in America, where she “felt free” and eagerly pursued all things American, except perhaps the most American thing of all, baseball. Sue was always curious about the game, but unfortunately, Roy despised baseball and did not let his wife have anything
to do with it.
Time went by, Roy passed away, and 13 years ago Sue suffered a debilitating stroke. At that time she moved into Vermont Hills in Portland, Oregon. That’s where, through early morning Japanese television, Sue first saw Ichiro Suzuki, the new player for the Seattle Mariners. Soon her room was filled with the lead-off hitter’s memorabilia and she never missed a televised Mariners game. She would update the staff each morning with the previous night’s game details.
Sue turned 80 in April of 2006. For her birthday, she said she wanted an autograph from the man who “made her heart beat again” – Ichiro Suzuki. That birthday wish came true on March 31, 2006. With the help of employees at her long-term care facility, Sue attended a Mariners exhibition game, met Ichiro and got the autograph of her dreams.
Sue had significantly more to say in her Mariners update the following morning, and, we’re sure, for many mornings to come.
Leila West’s dreams are strictly ballroom. When asked what she wanted for her 102nd birthday, the youthful former dancer and resident at the Marquis Care Facility in Forest Grove, Oregon said she wanted to “take a spin on the dance floor.”
Decked out in a blue satin gown that Cinderella would envy, West lived her dream on January 20th, 2006. Though confined to a wheelchair, her dance card was full all night at her Birthday Ball. As lights from a spinning disco ball above caught the glow from her smile, West and three partners took to the floor.
Luke Adams, a professional dancer, waltzed and fox-trotted with West. Marquis Administrator, Faraz Ahmed and Rehabilitation Director, Justin Weatherford were partners as well.
“I feel like Leila Chapman again,” West (whose maiden name was Chapman) said of her birthday ball. “I just miss dancing.”
“Any time there was music, Leila could always be seen tapping her toes or she would get up and dance about as she sang the song”, her daughter said. From the 1970’s through the 1990’s, West and friends danced at grange halls and clubs in Forest Grove, Hillsboro, and at the Forest Grove Senior Center.
In 1939, Lillian Martin and her husband purchased a Harley Davidson Motorcycle and rode from her hometown of Clovis, New Mexico to Bakersfield, California. The trip cost only $6.61 in gas, yet it began the life-long love affair between Lillian and Harleys.
Fast forward to 2006, Lillian is now 82 years old and a resident of Marquis Care at Plum Ridge in Klamath Falls, Oregon. After her last illness, she lost the use of her legs and thought she would never ride a motorcycle again. But that changed on May 11, 2006 at 2 pm.
In the facility’s parking lot, Lillian was lifted to the seat of a Harley, which belonged to a local pastor, Bill Hamblin. Hamblin was receiving therapy from the facility when he heard about Lillian’s dream to ride again.
“This made a really good day”, Bill said.
As the engine of the Harley roared to life, the crowd erupted in applause and cheered. Bill and Lillian headed out to ride. Concerned that she hadn’t been on a bike in a while, Bill asked Lillian if she was afraid. She responded, “No, go faster!”
Bill said he understood Lillian’s dream to ride a motorcycle again. When riding, “you see a different part of the world then when you are driving a car,” Bill said. “It’s a great life.”
A great life, indeed.
You wouldn’t recognize Cinderella if you saw her today. She’s 78 years old and her life-long struggle with cerebral palsy has left her hands curled up near her wrists. It’s a challenge for her to speak. However, the few words that she utters often have quite an impact on those around her.
Today, Cinderella goes by the name of Alice Wright. She lives in Gresham, Oregon at Marquis Care at Centennial. She’s a tiny little thing who could easily go unnoticed. Her fairy godmother is Susan Bowker, activities director at the center.
Alice loves country music, and at the top of her list is George Strait – a handsome hunk of a county singer. Pictures of him are plastered on her walls. She even keeps a poster hidden under her bed for safekeeping.
When Susan heard Strait would make a stop at the Rose Garden, she knew she had to get Alice to the show – to meet her prince. And, somehow, she would manage to get the prince to spend some time with Alice and let her know just how special she really is.
Susan went to work. The tickets were offered by the Trail Blazers, the pumpkin (limo) was provided by Les Johnson. The gown was trucked over by Dee’s Studio.
A small team of people focused on getting Cinderella ready to meet her prince.
On the day of the show, residents at the facility lined up to see them off. A crowd parted upon their arrival, letting them through to their seats. Maybe it was because of the 6-foot tall fairy wearing wings. Susan may be an imposing woman, but her heart really shows right through her eyes.
No one knew for sure what would happen, or if Alice would meet Strait. She was a little upset before the show because she was escorted away from her seat.
“What did you do now?” Alice said in a serious tone to Susan.
She was sent to the Blazers’ locker room and felt she might miss the show. Several people were there and knew the story. When Strait walked in, all eyes were on Alice, not the superstar. She’d finally met her prince, who even sang a special song for her. A small girl who witnessed the meeting said, “I think Alice is in Wonderland.”
Days later, back at the facility, things are still abuzz. When Alice sees her friend Susan, all her limbs pull up tight, close to her small frame. She simply clutches a small picture book filled with new memories.
When Susan started her quest, a radio station said very seriously, “Lady, you’re asking for the moon and the stars.” Now it seems as if that’s exactly what she gave Alice.
Betty Flickinger always insisted she didn’t need anything. When the Marquis Care at Centennial staff asked her about it, she would wave them off. At 88, she said her life was complete. Susan Bowker, the activities director, recently tried another tack. She asked Flickinger what she loved most.
“I like Cadillac convertibles, good-looking men, and fabulous shoes.”
Bingo. “Next week,” Bowker told her, “we’re going out and get you a brand new pair of shoes.” “OK, Baby, “ Flickinger replied. “I’ll follow you anywhere.”
Anywhere, in this case, was into the passenger seat of a $77,000 Cadillac XLR for a ride Wednesday to Saks Fifth Avenue in downtown Portland. There, escorted by nine sharply dressed gents, Flickinger picked out a pair of black $300 Stuart Weitzman shoes.
Betty always favored Cadillacs, owning 10 of them over the years. “They just have a ring to their motors,” she said. She was married once, but after that had a string of boyfriends. “The first thing they did that I didn’t like – I was gone.” And I always had some more waiting too,” she said.
Outside of Saks at her event, a store employee presented Betty with a bouquet of yellow roses. “If I passed away tonight or tomorrow, I’d say I had a good, active life.” When she was done shopping, she blew everybody a kiss.
On April 17, 2006, Hilda Lewis was the big winner.
Hilda is a resident of Marquis Care at Oregon City and a big bowler. Born in Baker City, Oregon 92 years ago, she met her husband at 16 and lived in Oregon, Nevada and even Alaska - where they built a fishing boat and lived for 4 years.
Finally settling in Milwaukie, Hilda took a job at the Milwaukie Bowl where she worked for thirty years. After leaving her job, she continued to be an avid bowler, playing in a senior league there. Through the New Chapter program, Hilda bowled one more time. She was so excited by the opportunity that she bet Mike, a Marquis staff member, that if she bowled a strike, he’d have to pay her $20!
The day finally arrived! With her family, friends, Marquis staff members and her former bowling league teammates, Hilda put on her glove, wheeled up to the lane and released the ball.
STRIKE on her first try.
With a big smile, Mike pulled out his wallet and handed over a $20 bill. Hilda’s grin could be seen a mile away. She continued to bowl, knocked down a few more strikes and called it a day. It was a day she won’t soon forget.