A 55-year-old Charlottetown woman who has months to live is having her final wish fulfilled – to have her family together under one roof one more time.
Margaret Ross moved to Nanaimo, B.C., in the spring so she could live closer to one of her sons and his family.
However, shortly after arriving she was diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer that has spread to the brain and leg.
Her dying wish was to see her other three sons and a grandson, who live on the East Coast, one more time to say a final goodbye and to make some special memories.
Her friend, Rose Barbour, on P.E.I. jumped into action. She set up a Go Fund Me campaign to help raise money for two plane tickets. An anonymous donor stepped in and paid for a third ticket, and a national organization called Give A Mile took care of the fourth ticket. Give A Mile’s goal is to give families the gift of a final goodbye. It uses donated Aeroplan miles or cash donations to purchase plane tickets quickly and bring people together.
Ross told The Guardian it has been 11 years since she’s had all her sons under one roof. They’ll be brought together at the end of the month.
“My life is about love, giving and receiving. My little family has been the pillar of my existence,’’ Ross said. “Loving these boys and raising these boys as a single divorced mother has been the most incredible part of my life, so that’s all I wanted was to be able to share that love again and have an opportunity to speak to them all at the same time and hold them and love them.’’
Ross said the Give A Mile campaign is incredible, as are the many people out there who are willing to give up their Aeroplan miles.
“To give this dying woman her final wish goes far beyond the financial burden that’s been lifted. It’s life-changing and not just for me, for my family as well. New memories will be made, amends can be made, forgiveness can be given, if needed. It’s just overpowering what this one gesture will do for an entire family.’’
Kevin Crowe, founder of Give A Mile, said every flight reminds him that everyone only has so much time left.
“It is hard to put into words how it feels in your heart to know you have given people one more visit with a loved one who is dying,’’ Crowe said. “It also gives us back a huge sense of gratitude as we reflect on our own gift of life and our time with our loved ones. Every time I talk to one of the families I go home and hug my son a bit tighter and appreciate all the precious little things in life.’’
Ross said her son in Nanaimo has found their time together therapeutic, sharing his own thoughts and fears for what his mother is going through with his brothers on the East Coast.
“We cried so many tears, it was just so therapeutic for me. I actually felt like I was healing,’’ Ross said.
As for what the actual diagnosis did to her, Ross said she went through it all — anger, bitterness, fear, shock and disbelief. She’s writing a blog now at www.faithdespitecancer.blogspot.com/?m-1 to reach out to others.
“I have a huge faith in God so I turned to that because it’s the only guarantee I have in my life is my faith. So, I decided there’s a blessing in every trauma and it’s up to me to see what blessing God planted in this one.’’
She has also written letters ahead of time for things like future family weddings, when her granddaughter has her first baby and for when her sons get married, knowing that she will have touched them on those special occasions.
“It taught me that I need to reach out more and try and sprinkle as much love as I possibly can with the time I have left.’’
In many ways, she said the diagnosis has saved her.
“I’m still not 100 per cent sure what the reason was, but I intend to find out before I walk that final journey with the Lord.’’
About Give A Mile
- Volunteer organization that makes flights happen for people who are palliative/end of life by asking people donating their unused travel miles
- Also accepts cash donations
- 100 per cent of donations goes to flights
- People can actually donate to the specific flight story on the website so you know exactly who you have helped
- In its fifth year and have made more than 470 flights happen using more than 15.5 million donated miles
- On the web – Giveamile.org