My Dad, Larry McGraw, 82, has been a Grant County resident since 1977. You may know him as he has submitted numerous articles to the Blue Mountain Eagle, and has combed and photographed every nook and cranny in Grant County for the past 28 years.
He also has held open invitation, old-fashioned apple cider squeezes in his Experimental Orchard. Good times for all!
Sadly, he was diagnosed with metastatic prostate cancer a few years ago, and so it was necessary to put him in hospice prior to Christmas.
When I was researching the hospice Web site, it had a link to The Dream Foundation, which is a wish-granting organization for adult terminal patients. (Similar to The Make-A-Wish Foundation for children).
So a few days before Christmas, I sent them a letter, application, and a photo of my dad requesting a dream for him. I figured with the amount of requests they receive that the less it cost the better chance he had.
So all I asked for was for President George W. Bush to call him on the phone. He loves George.
I never in my life expected to hear back from them. On Jan. 12, they called me at work. They told me they wanted to grant my father a dream. Sadly, with time constraints, the president wasn't feasible, but what else could they do?
I was in shock. They said to think about it and call them right back. It took just minutes after hanging up to come up with a new dream for him.
At Christmas, my four brothers, three of their spouses and my sister were able to arrange to spend time with my dad and to say their goodbyes.
It was so special and meant so much to him. But one of my brothers has three children; so my sister-in-law and kids had to stay home in San Jose.
It tore at my heart because they are so special to my dad, but it was too much for five plane tickets at the last moment. And my sister-in-law is like a daughter to him.
I called the Dream Foundation back, and they said they could do it. I sat and cried at my desk, I was so happy. I called my sister-in-law, and she had tears of joy because she had been so sad that she wouldn't be able to tell him goodbye, and now there was a way.
When I told him, he cried so hard tears just streamed down his face, and he was so choked up all he could do was whisper, "thank you," and squeeze my hand.
The next morning, they were here by his side, another tearful reunion. And they had their chance to say goodbye.
My dad is a very special person, who has touched a lot of hearts, so by their granting his dream they have touched a lot more lives than they'll ever know. There is no way to put a price on what they have done for him, and for my family, by granting this dream.
I know your community is one of the most caring and compassionate communities I have seen because I lived there for several years. And I have read a lot of your cards to him. Thank you for that; we have spent hours reading those cards and letters to him. And every one brought a smile.
I wanted to share our story with you because it is so special and I want others to know that dreams really come true.
He would like nothing better than to see others experience the same joy he had by having a wish granted. We are going to be collecting donations to make that a reality. If you would like to help please send a check or money order payable to The Dream Foundation and we will send them on his behalf. And if you want to know the final amount collected, just include your e-mail or mailing address.
Carol Burks wrote this with her daughters. The family's address is P.O. Box 2293, Salem, OR 97308-2293. The Dream Foundation: www.dreamfoundation.com.