What wish would you make if you were dying? Would it be a reunion with friends, an exotic trip, a special dinner?
Local resident 83-year-old Ernest Krzyzanowski, who is a Hospice client, had a much more down-to-earth wish: he wanted to cruise around the area in a convertible. A resident of Roberts Road, he wanted to see first-hand what was happening with the construction on his road.
While thinking about end-of-life matters isn't pleasant, Ernie's daughter, Connie Wojcinski, was laughing when she said proudly, "My dad's a real character."
Ernie Krzyzanowski grins from ear to ear as he gets ready for a cruise in a 2010 Corvette. Hospice social worker, Rachel Smith (left) and daughter Connie Wojcinski also enjoy the moment.
And, according to Connie, his wish was totally in that character. Ernie really likes cars. He ran the demolition derby at the fair for years. Connie also explained that her dad likes to keep tabs on what is happening on Roberts Road.
She said, "Rachel (Smith, Ernie's social worker) made the arrangements."
Connie went on to praise the care Hospice provides for her dad. While medical care is important, there is much more.
She said, "Hospice has been so supportive to keep him engaged and thinking. He has a music therapist - they are working on a polka."
Other services such as a massage therapist "keep him moving."
"There are so many little things that Hospice provides, so much information. I don't know what I would do without them," she said.
Hospice social worker Rachel Smith agreed with Connie that Ernie is a character, pointing out what a great sense of humor he has. She was determined to grant his wish if at all possible.
She approached David Basil, executive manager of Robert Basil Chevrolet, Buick and Cadillac located in Fredonia. Basil made arrangements for the dealership's driver, Dale Ricker, to take Ernie for his cruise around town in a 2010 black Corvette convertible. In addition, Basil donated a model convertible car resembling the Corvette, a baseball cap and a certificate.
Basil never expected publicity from this deed. When asked about his part in Ernie's adventure, he simply said, "I don't think of it as anything out of the ordinary. It was an honor to be involved. I would hope that anyone would have done what they could to honor such a request."
Because of Ernie's physical condition, a Hoyer lift was required to transfer him into the car. Connie and Rachel were touched to see Ernie grinning from ear to ear as Ernie and Dale drove away.
Rachel said, "My job entails me driving in a car every day. However, I never realized how much I take it for granted - until I saw how much happiness it brought through a dying man's eyes."
According to Connie, Ernie still talks about the Corvette ride. He wanted his story told, hoping it would help someone else.
Connie wanted people to understand how Hospice can help people during end-of-life situations.
Rachel said Hospice provides multiple supports. Services can include music therapy, art therapy, reiki, acupuncture, massage, grief counseling and educational information for the family, as well as religious support.
The website for Hospice in Chautauqua County is www.hospicechautco.org. The local phone number is 672-6944.
Ernie also wondered if a picture taken that day could be put into the paper.
Yes, Ernie, we can do that.
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