Dreamer: Petronila, 59 Dream: To bring loved ones together for a farewell fiesta Dream #: 19,759
With your support,
Petronila and her family were able to commemorate their culture and love for each other.
Photos courtesy of Portraits for Causes
When Petronila, a widowed mother of four, moved to the U.S. from Mexico in 1993, she dedicated herself to giving her family a new life and better opportunities. Taking up a job as a housekeeper, Petronila worked tirelessly to provide for her children. Bertha, Petronila’s youngest daughter, describes her mother as “a strong woman and a hard worker.”
After being diagnosed with brain cancer, 59-year-old Petronila found she could no longer offer the support she longed to give her family. But with the help of her children, her local hospice and community, she was able to turn things around by bringing her loved ones together to celebrate life with a special family fiesta.
Forty family members and friends gathered at Petronila’s home to make her final dream come true. The festive gathering was filled with delicious Mexican cuisine, mariachi music, laughter and togetherness. Petronila truly received her celebration of life – una fiesta de la vida.
Dreams allow families like Petronila’s to see beyond illness and celebrate love, support and community. They enable lasting memories and cherished moments to be part of the journey until the very end.
Thank you for making dreams like Petronila’s come true.
Dreamer: Hilda, 99 Dream: To converse with those she loves once more Dream #: 21,569
With your help, Hilda’s quality of life is renewed and much improved.
Ninety-nine-year-old California resident Hilda has had difficulties hearing for almost 20 years. Even so, her friends and caregivers say she is a “source of love and light” to those around her.
When Hilda received a life expectancy of six months or less, her daughter and loved ones were determined to help her live out her final days with the gift of improved hearing. Hilda and her family approached Dream Foundation requesting a pair of hearing aids. According to the family, “Hilda tries to feel what we are saying, but to really hear what is going on around her would be such a gift!”
Hilda’s face lit up when she received her hearing aids. After two decades being 100 percent deaf in one ear and 95 percent deaf in the other, she was finally able to hear conversations clearly again. When the doctor asked her what time she woke up, she exclaimed without hesitation, “9:30!” When asked about the last time she ate ice cream, Hilda beamed and replied, “last week!”
Hilda is now able to hear even the faintest whisper and engages comfortably in conversation with those around her.
When one’s ability to meet his or her basic needs becomes out of reach, a dream that may seem simple in nature can have a tremendous impact. With your help, Hilda’s quality of life is renewed and much improved.
Thank you for making dreams like Hilda’s come true.
Dreamer: Mary, 60 Dream: To bring her family together one last time and present her grandson with a treasure Dream #: 21,196
With your support, Mary was able to reunite with her family at her bedside and present her grandson with a lasting token of her love.
Kim Therkildsen Photography
Mary was a dedicated mother of four and grandmother of eight. As she fought against end stage endometrial cancer and two brain tumors, she longed to reunite with her family one last time.
Mary dreamt of being able to attend her eldest grandson’s graduation, but knowing she may not make the milestone because of her limited prognosis, opted instead to celebrate by giving him a class ring. Dream Foundation procured the ring for Mary’s grandson and coordinated to bring Mary’s extended family to her bedside in her final days.
Although her strength weakened during their reunion, Mary glowed in the presence of her loved ones. She was able to present her grandson with the class ring, by which he will remember her. Mary passed away just three days later.
Even through their grief, her family will forever cherish the special memories they made during their time together. Everyone from the recent high school graduate to the youngest grandchild will have memories of a loving grandmother and an understanding of the importance of family.
Dreams allow families like Mary’s the chance to say their final goodbyes and share lasting memories. Bedside reunions can bring closure and comfort to both the dream recipient and his or her loved ones.
Thank you for making dreams like Mary’s come true.
Dreamer: Brenda, age 69 Dream: To leave a legacy to her loved ones through anecdotes, advice and words of wisdom Dream #: 20,374
When the constraints of illness preclude the ability to perform basic tasks, a dream allows people like Brenda the ability to create tangible gifts of love and leave behind a legacy.
Photos courtesy of Elizabeth Messina
Often, a mother’s carefully carved legacy is to leave her children with the unquestionable knowledge that they are loved, that their dreams matter, and that what will remain are meaningful and abundant memories.
For some mothers, a dream is witnessing the wonder in their children as they experience a final family vacation. For others, it may be providing the basic comfort of a home: new sheets, a working appliance or reassurance a bill will be paid.
Our dreamer Brenda longed to forge deep and everlasting connections between herself and her loved ones through words. She hoped to write three love letters: one to her daughter and one to each of her two granddaughters.
Most importantly, Brenda wanted her daughter to know how much she had enriched her life and how much she loves her. The love letters to her granddaughters—which were to be opened on their graduation days or 18th birthdays—included advice and words of wisdom, as well as anecdotes about her own life and journey into adulthood.
Due to the constraints of her illness that rendered her weak and easily fatigued, it became increasingly difficult for Brenda to write. She reached out to Dream Foundation for help crafting these letters. The Vice Chairperson of Dream Foundation’s Board of Directors, Hollye Jacobs—also an author, blogger, oncology social worker, cancer survivor and mother—went to Brenda’s side and listened with an open ear as she shared from her heart, dictating her beloved letters. With Hollye’s assistance, Brenda was able to create tangible words and gifts of love.
Dream Foundation also presented Brenda with stunning portraits by longtime supporter Elizabeth Messina, making her treasured letters more special than she ever could have imagined.
Dreamer: Ethel, age 94 Dream: To attend the monthly pancake breakfast at the local American Legion post with husband Carl Dream #: 19,121
When time has been cut short due to terminal illness, a dream allows people like Ethel to reconnect with meaningful aspects of their past and honor a life full of love, service and community.
Photos courtesy of Kristen Reimer and Steven Fontas
Ninety-four-year-old Ethel met her husband Carl when she was serving as a U.S. Army nurse during World War II. The two have been nearly inseparable since, remaining active over the years in local veterans’ organizations. Carl, 92, is a U.S. Army veteran as well. As Ethel struggles with the effects of terminal lymphoma, the couple has been forced to put their house on the market in order to meet the financial obligations associated with her care and treatment.Now living together in a residential care facility, Ethel and Carl still enjoy keeping up with their veterans’ activities, although as Ethel laments, “our deteriorating health has begun to make outings more difficult.”
Ethel’s dream was that she and Carl attend the monthly pancake breakfast at their local American Legion post, then take a drive to visit their old home and see the military cemetery where they will one day be buried. They were able to spend quality time in their old home and see their final resting place. It was precisely what this proud, patriotic woman had wished for.