The Ambulance Wish Foundation is an organization based in the Netherlands, with a mission similar to that of the Make-A-Wish Foundation. The well-known Make-A-Wish Foundation grants wishes to kids with life-threatening and terminal illnesses. These wishes are often extravagant and sometimes seriously awesome, like when San Francisco was transformed into Gotham allowing a young boy to be “Batkid” for the day. The Ambulance Wish Foundation (AWF) grants slightly less eye-catching wishes, but I think they are just as heartwarming. The AWF was founded by Kees Veldboer, an ambulance driver. One day he was transporting an older patient and asked him if there was anything he wanted to see while they were out before taking him back to the white-washed walls of the hospital. The patient requested to see the Vlaardingen canal, so Veldboer let the patient sit outside the canal in the sun and wind until he was ready to leave. This event led to the foundation of the AWF.
The AWF brings peace and joy to people in their final days. The foundation believes “positive end-of-life experiences are far too important to pass up.” They have over 230 volunteers, including highly trained medical staff and custom-built ambulances, and they have fulfilled almost 7,000 wishes. The article I read regarding the AWF included photos of the patients fulfilling their final wishes. These photos are heartwarming in their simplicity. The AWF specializes in older people. These people have often lived full lives, so their wishes are much more simple than those of kids who have just begun to live. The wishes include things such as seeing a favorite painting, watching dolphins, standing on the beach, seeing a grandchild, attending a granddaughter’s wedding, visiting a best friend’s grave, or my favorite, enjoying an ice cream cone with a loved one.
(Photo from http://www.upworthy.com/7-powerful-photographs-of-terminally-ill-patients-living-out-their-final-wishes , author, Evan Porter)
Another wish came from a woman who just wanted to see her home one last time. She asked to be taken to her living room where she sat peacefully for hours, looking around, most likely reminiscing on the memories and experiences from her life that had occurred in one small room.
These wishes make you realize, as cliché as it is, the importance of the small things in life. As the author says, perhaps the things we will remember at the end of our lives won’t be the extraordinary moments and things, but the ordinary ones- “the wallpaper in the house we grew up in, a sunny day spent on the water, or those little everyday moments spent with the people we love most.”
While it is incredible to read what Make-A-Wish does, the simplicity and warmth of the AWF is equally heartwarming. After reading about the many elderly who spend their final days in a hospital or a nursing home, it was lovely to read about these final days which I’m sure, made for good deaths.