A 98-year-old McMinnville woman in hospice care had her birthday wish fulfilled Sunday: a horse-drawn carriage ride through downtown McMinnville surrounded by a handful of caregivers who have long since become friends.
Gladys Hebenstreit, who has been in hospice care since May, rode the horse-drawn carriage accompanied by her hospice nurse, social worker, chaplain, and handful of other women who provide around-the-clock care for Hebenstreit in her McMinnville home.
“I think this was her way of saying thank you to the people who are there for her day in and day out,” said Leslie Crowder, a nurse who provides twice-weekly care for Hebenstreit.
“It’s just her way of wanting a final celebration for her birthday. And coupling that with the people who have grown to love her, and who care for her.”
The ride was a surprise for Hebenstreit, who thought she was only going to a birthday lunch when the carriage pulled up outside her home. It came thanks to the planning of her caregivers and the Dream Foundation, a California-based organization that grants wishes for adults suffering life-threatening illnesses and their families.
Hebenstreit, who has struggled with congestive heart failure, was placed in hospice care last May.
“I was sick a long, long time,” she said. “I came out of the hospital in really bad shape. “About a month or so ago I asked to live for this day. I said, ‘If I ever get better I’m going to hire a horse and ride down the street,'” she said. “That’s where it started.”
Hebenstreit, who was wearing a red crown and beads — gifts from the hospice staff — had little trouble pulling herself up onto the carriage.
“I could do this all day,” she said. (Read more)