By Lucus Bechtol, Bryan Times –
When Bob Hollstein of West Unity entered hospice services through Community Health Professionals (CHP) in October, he had one wish: to see his family.
That posed a problem for his grandson, Jay Moore. As a minister in Portland, Oregon, he couldn’t afford the $2,600 to fly his wife, Lindsay, and children, Aileena, 2, Adaleia, 10, and Ellianna, 4, to Ohio.
“I wanted to see them,” Bob said.
So, they decided to reach out to The Angel Foundation, a non-profit affiliate of CHP committed to fulfilling wishes for terminally-ill adults in Ohio.
However, Alice, Bob’s wife, said it wasn’t possible for them to fly out to Oregon, in part because the Angel Foundation doesn’t fly people on oxygen, such as Bob.
“Physically, I don’t think he would’ve been able to do it,” she added. “He wanted the kids to come before anything happens.”
So, instead, Jay – the self-proclaimed favorite grandson, a title Alice denies – and his family came back to West Unity with the assistance of the Angel Foundation.
Making a wish
“When he first got hospice in the early part of October,” Alice recalled, “one of the nurses said something about CHP having what they call the Angel Foundation, which is like Make a Wish for kids.”
So, Bob made his wish to have Jay, Lindsay, and their kids come home.
“It’s a privilege and an honor to be here,” said Jay, a 2007 graduate of Hilltop High School who is in the process of planting a church back in Portland.
Jay and his family flew in on Nov. 18. The Hollstein family gathered for Thanksgiving dinner on Nov. 23, before the return flight on the 25th.
“It’s been good,” Bob, a man of few words, said of their visit. His favorite part was “playing with the kids,” and Jay agreed that it was fulfilling to see his children interact with their great-grandparents.
“It’s been fun,” Alice added.
Lindsay said they made some amazing memories. It was the first time Bob got to meet their youngest child, Aileena.
“I was worried because he’s never met her and she’s usually pretty shy around new people,” Lindsay said while Aileena cooed and played with a phone next to her. “I wanted for her to come and instantly know he was family. She took right to him. We walked in from just going to the store a minute ago and the first person she went to was Grandpa.”
While Aileena is likely too young to remember the visit in the future, they have recorded some memories that will live on. That was Lindsay’s favorite moment of the trip: recording Bob and Aileena playing and singing a song together.
Much to be thankful for
While it was Bob’s wish for him to come home, it was also a wish fulfilled for Jay.
“My husband and I have been together for 12 years and it’s been his dream to come back for Thanksgiving,” Lindsay said. “This is the first time in 12 years that we’ve been able to have a Thanksgiving for all of us together. It’s pretty special.”
Jay says Thanksgiving is his favorite holiday.
“We have a lot to be thankful for and family is one of them,” he said. “So, coming together as a family and being around each other and seeing everybody is really a great reminder of what we have to be thankful for.”
Bob was diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis two years ago and it progressed to the point where he was admitted to hospice a few months ago.
“It’s called idiopathic because they don’t know what caused it,” Alice said.
Jay wonders if it was the 60 years his father spent as a volunteer firefighter for Alvordton.
“You never know,” Bob said. “We don’t know what caused it.” But, there is no treatment or cure as the disease progresses.
Bob was first diagnosed two years ago.
“They said his lung function is 43 percent and it would only be months,” Alice said. “But they don’t know. He’s too ornery.”
A lifetime of service
Bob has retired, but not really. He still has all his firefighting equipment, including the alarms.
“He’s still on the fire department, he’s still a member,” Alice said. “We have all his turnout gear in the back of his car. We still have the pager that goes off at 6 o’clock every evening.”
The Alvordton Fire Department has a record of Bob being on the force for 41 years, but he said it was much longer than that.
“I started when I was 16,” the 72-year-old said. “But, you could only turn hoses and stuff. You couldn’t go in and fight fire at that point, not until I was 18.”
He did drop a few years when they moved out of the area, Alice said.
All the family agreed that it was great to be able to visit and they thank CHP and the Angel Foundation for the opportunity.
*Note: The Angel Foundation operates solely on donations and receives no federal or state funding. Those who wish to support this wish may make a donation to the Angel Foundation at 1157 Westwood Dr., Van Wert, OH 45891 or online at www.theangelfoundation.net.