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Stories of Love & Hope: Roland's Last Wish

Roland was a sweet 50 year old man with a feisty streak who was dying from cancer. He had been diagnosed with colon cancer about 5 years prior, and the disease had consumed his body and left him wasteless, struggling in pain daily.

Born in New Brunswick Canada, Roland was one of eight children. His lifelong work, he was a hardwood floor specialist, which he took on with perfection. He was an avid hunter and fisherman, and spent much time outdoors. Married to Wendy, whom he describes as his "soul mate" and "best friend", they shared a birthday, and the love of their children and family. They were always together.

In the last few months of his life, Roland was admitted into the local hospice program to support and manage his care as he entered the final stage of his life. He required medication to be comfortable, but often his pain was barely kept at bay.

Roland's final wish was to be with his family, and to go home to die. He wanted to travel back to Canada to be with his mother and extended family, to feel their love and warmth before he died. Unfortunately, Roland was not stable enough to take a trip, nor could his pain be managed for such a long journey. It seemed impossible to fulfill his wish.

The staff at the Maya Center had an idea and proposed an alternative option to Roland rather than travelling home; what about having them all come to him! To fulfill his wish of being with his family and sharing in their love before he died, the Maya Center offered to host the entire family at the Retreat Center for a weekend.

The weekend chosen was Roland and Wendy's 50th birthday celebration. Prior to this event, Roland had not had the strength to get out of bed. His will and strength rallied, and Roland spent every moment he could up and about with his family over the weekend. What a gathering it turned out to be! Roland's family members travelled from all over the US and Canada to spend this special time together.

The festivities began on Friday afternoon, when nearly all 35 family members arrived. Roland insisted on a seafood dinner that night, and was found helping out in the kitchen preparing lobster! He was so happy to be with his family, he said he did not have any pain. His family was gentle with him and encouraged him to rest, but Roland refused. He knew this was his last event and he embraced every minute of it.

Saturday morning arrived and the men assisted Roland down to the beach, where he spent part of the day fishing with the guys. He planned to catch the evening meal. A bonfire capped the end of the day, where the family spent time reminiscing about shared events. Roland was so overyjoyed, he refused to go to bed. But exhaustion set in and he was helped up to bed.

The final celebration of the weekend was the Birthday surprise. Wendy set up the outside porch with decorations, balloons and a huge birthday cake, much to the surprise of Roland. Presents abounded, and together Roland and Wendy opened gifts, shared cake and all enjoyed those beautiful moments. The family cherished this day, as they knew it would be their last celebration with Roland.

Two weeks later Roland passed away peacefully under the care of hospice staff at the Respite House. Wendy and many of the family members were present as he transitioned from this life. Roland left behind his dear beloved wife Wendy, his three loving children, four wonderful grandchildren, and many dear nieces and nephews. The pain and suffering were gone for Roland, but his laughter, love, and feisty demeanor shall always remain. The blessings the family carry of being together, sharing in their love and joy in the midst of such anguish demonstrates the true depth of love we can give one another. We all were blessed by such presence.

Disclaimer: The information presented here is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of the Maya Center or its staff.