Friday, March 10, 2017

Back to the Beach... One Last Time

It is a bit melodramatic to call it a “dying wish,” but a 78-year-old woman here in New Jersey who is in hospice care with a terminal diagnosis of acute leukemia recently told her family that she would like to “go to the shore” one last time.

So she did.  With the help of a police officer in the oceanfront town of Ship Bottom.

For those readers not from this area, “going to the shore” is a regional phrase for what the rest of the country calls going to the beach.  But one does not go down to the shore.  The correct terminology is “down the shore.”

The family of Patricia Kelly, who spent countless summers vacationing at the shore, knew that she would not be able to walk onto the beach herself, so they asked the Ship Bottom Police Department for some help.  Which is how it came to be that Patrolman Ronald Holloway drove one of the agency’s SUVs across the sand recently, taking Kelly to the water’s edge.  There she was able to enjoy some time with her granddaughters, have a group hug with family and friends, and, looking out at the ocean, say goodbye to a place she loves.

Kelly was deeply appreciative, telling a reporter “they could have taken me right then, and I would have been the happiest person,” she said. “That's my place.”  Alluding to her desire to have her ashes spread on the beach, she added “I'll be there forever.”

The family conducted a prayer circle, and Officer Holloway participated.  The officer, clearly moved by the entire experience,  told a television reporter that “being able to take her out for this ride on the beach was a life-moving experience.  It was a checkmark in my career for sure.”

The family had nothing but praise for Officer Holloway, posting a message on the Ship Bottom Police Department’s Face book page that read “A BIG SHOUT OUT to Officer Ronald Holloway... he is a man who not only protects and serves but genuinely cares... his extraordinary kindness and character speaks volumes of the man he is.”