Police officer grants dying woman’s wish to visit beach one last time
Patricia Kelly, who is diagnosed with leukemia, was given three months to live.
— -- A New Jersey woman battling leukemia got her dying wish, thanks to a police officer who helped her enjoy the beach one last time.
Patricia Kelly was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia back in December, just a few days after Christmas, and doctors gave the Burlington City, New Jersey woman only three to six months to live, her granddaughter Lauren Corbin told ABC News.
Kelly, 78, only had one final wish before she could say goodbye -- to see the ocean again.
"That's been my spot since I was a little girl. Every year we went to the ocean," Kelly told ABC News of visiting Long Beach Island in New Jersey. "And I just loved it."
So Kelly's daughter-in-law, Stephanie Corbin, decided to rent a beach house in Ship Bottom, New Jersey for 11 women -- Kelly's best friends, her daughters-in-law and her grandchildren -- to enjoy. The group trekked there last Friday with an itinerary meant to make memories to last a lifetime.
"The agenda for the weekend was games, meals, bonding, sharing stories, sending out Chinese Wishing Lanterns, movies, music sing-a-longs, the beach, a Polar Bear Plunge, sending out messages in a bottle to sea, and creating more memories," Lauren Corbin detailed.
"The whole thing couldn't have been any more perfect than if it had been scripted," Kelly told ABC News.
One highlight of the weekend was when a family friend came over to play the guitar and sing songs, including Neil Diamond's 1969 hit "Sweet Caroline" with the ladies. But when they started to sing along to Leonard Cohen's classic, "Hallelujah," Stephanie Corbin recalled that her mother-in-law stopped the guitarist with a request.
"[She said,] 'I'm gonna ask a favor of you,'" she said. "'At my service, I want you to play this and I want everybody to sing it.' Needless to say there wasn’t a dry eye in the house."
Still, the main event was trekking to the beach to fulfill Kelly's dying wish. But in order to pull it off, they needed help, Tiffany Santucci-Kelly recalled. "Because she really can't walk that far without getting out of breath."
So her sister-in-law, Stephanie Corbin, called the Ship Bottom Police Department and said, "I know this is a weird request ... but my mother-in-law is terminally ill and her one last hoorah is to go to the beach."
Even though it was only 20 degrees that weekend, that didn't deter police officer Ron Holloway from volunteering to drive an SUV on the beach for Kelly, along with her friends and family.
"He picked her up and took her for a nice little ride on the beach, walked on the sand, and we formed a prayer circle and Officer Holloway joined in," Santucci-Kelly said.
Stephanie Corbin added, "He was a gentleman beyond anything. He was just so humble and kind. Anyone could've given us a ride, but ... he was just so compassionate. He just went above and beyond."
Now, the family plans to make their beach a trip a yearly outing in memory of Kelly.
For now, Kelly is simply trying to enjoy her last moments.
"I'm not afraid of dying. I'm not scared," she said. "I feel like I've led a good life and I'm OK with that. I mean, you can't live forever."
"You only live once. You want to leave a good impression, and that’s what I’m trying to do for my kids," Kelly added.