September 11th was a long and exhausting day, but by 5:00 p.m. grandpa was back in the town that has always held a place in his heart because it is the home of the Red Sox. Although the baseball game isn’t until Saturday, our goal was to get him here a couple days beforehand so he could rest and also so he could try to make a few visits in his hometown, Lawrence.
One of the main concerns with coming to Boston was how grandpa would adjust to the new setting because of the severe states of confusion he has had over these last several months since grandma passed away in May. A few weeks after grandma passed away, grandpa fell and broke his hip and had to have surgery. After surgery, he was transferred to a rehabilitation hospital and he remained extremely disoriented. This was a very scary time for family because we didn’t know if his memory would improve. He fell in the rehab and was also having issues with blood clots, so was transferred to a different hospital, which only added to the confusion. He transferred from that hospital to yet a completely different rehab facility and things seemed to be getting a bit better, but then had to go back to the hospital yet again. There have been so many hospital stays between both of my grandparents this past year that I don’t even remember why he was there that last time, but it added to the confusion. He went from that hospital stay back to rehab, and finally home a few weeks ago. He still has some memory problems, but it could be much worse, and this trip is something that I doubt he could ever forget, although he may think back and wonder if it was an amazing dream because it all just seems too good to be true!
Thankfully, he was able to get familiar with his surroundings and the memory issues aren’t near as bad as they were during these hospital stays (although it’s still not great, unfortunately). There was a day in particular when we made a visit to grandpa at the rehab and you could tell he recognized who we were, but he couldn’t say our names. He was able to talk about the Red Sox, and I was glad there was something he hadn’t forgotten, but it was scary that he couldn’t think of our names (just goes to show where we rank! lol). There were times when he thought he was in a hospital in Lowell, Massachusetts (instead of the area of Florida where he has lived since the 60s) and even a time when he thought he was at Fenway just a couple weeks before. This was before we had any idea that his dream to go to Fenway would become a reality, so I thought to myself that if he is going to be confused about reality, thinking he was at Fenway anytime in the recent past wasn’t such a bad thing. We may not have been as concerned about his memory if it didn’t feel like we might be witnessing a replay of how fast grandma deteriorated just a few months before. There was literally a day I went to visit her and she seemed to be doing well, and then a couple days later as soon as I walked in her living room and saw her, it was like someone knocked the wind out of me. My grandmother was still physically in front of me, but the grandma I knew was gone. It’s difficult to even write that without tearing up because the memories are so painful. It was also heartbreaking to watch grandpa’s reaction. I love that he is a very positive person, and I do believe in miracles, but I knew that it was getting close to her time to go, and grandpa remained adamant that grandma was going to make a recovery and come back to us. The night she passed away was very somber, and I vividly recall sitting in silence on the porch of my grandparents townhouse with my grandfather, husband, son and some other family, watching the Red Sox game on my aunt’s laptop while the hospice nurse was inside with grandma and the funeral home representatives (they had asked family to leave the room). Despite the sad night, we were still happy that there was something to distract grandpa while they were inside preparing to take grandma to the funeral home. Although his memory has improved from some of those scariest incidents, it’s still great, and we were extremely thankful that we were able to make it to Boston with time for him to rest and get familiar with his surroundings. We had also originally planned on taking a larger vehicle or RV because of grandpas blood clots and because of the expense, but after getting clearance from his physician to fly and airplane tickets donated by an extremely generous Boston business owner, the trip was much shorter and less tiring for grandpa.
About a month ago, before we knew that grandpa really was going to be able to make it to Fenway, I remember having a conversation with my mom about the month of September approaching and how difficult that was going to be for everyone, especially grandpa, because it would be the first time the family wouldn’t be celebrating Grandma’s birthday on September 5th or their anniversary on September 11th with her. We knew this would be a very sad time for grandpa as well. Because of all of the unexpected excitement surrounding this incredible trip that was made possible by countless generous individuals, he was actually able to find things to smile about on what would have been his 64th wedding anniversary. Nothing can take away the hole that was left in his heart after losing grandma, but it was such a great feeling to see him have something to look forward to and smile about. I know that is what my grandma would have wanted as well. She has said for years and years, even before she was ever sick, that if anything ever happened to her to remember that she is in a better place. She didn’t want us to be sad, but for anyone that has ever lost anyone close to them, you know that is easier said than done.
When we originally planned this trip, the only thing we knew for certain was that we wanted Grandpa to get to Fenway to watch the Red Sox play, because he has been talking about it for so long and has remained a faithful fan year after year, even during “The Curse”. I thought it would be great if my mom and Aunt Michele could go as well because they have worked a countless amount of hours for the past couple of years as caregivers for my grandparents. After watching them I’m convinced that there is no job as difficult as taking care of someone you love when they are sick. This has often required (and currently requires) care 24/7 because both my grandma and my grandfather tend to get up and try to walk around at night. My grandparents have always been very family oriented, and more than anything they love the times the whole family can get together, so I knew it would be ideal if my Aunt Teresa and Uncle Dennis could go as well, especially since Dennis and his family live in the Atlanta area and we only get to see them a couple times a year. I also knew that was a longshot because we were having an impossible time figuring out a way for grandpa and even two people to go (at least 2 people are required because someone needs to be there at all times or he will try to get up and walk around despite being warned of the dangers). When everything took off on the fundraiser, it all happened extremely fast, and was difficult to even keep up with, much less comprehend all of the people that were trying to help make this happen. The money donations started adding up, and then on top of that, there were other people that were offering help with some of the more costly expenses of this trip, like airfare, lodging, game tickets, etc. When all was said and done, these extremely generous people reached out and in the matter of a couple of days were instrumental in turning this dream into a reality that exceeded any expectations we ever could have had. Because of the generosity of some friends and family as well as many, many complete strangers, my grandfather will be able to experience this once in a lifetime event with all 4 of his children as well as me and my husband. Grandpa also has 4 other grandchildren and 3 great grandchildren that are extremely close to him and although they can’t be here, they are so happy that he will have this once in a lifetime experience.
There are really no words to express how thankful we are to everyone that made this dream come true, but I feel that the following people should be acknowledged, because each and every person listed played a part in turning something that seemed impossible into reality that our family will cherish forever (as well as many more I’m probably not aware of, and I apologize for anyone I have forgotten in all of the busy excitement). I think the story is even much bigger than our family that will be forever grateful. I have read a lot of the comments from people that have shared our story that has been in the media recently, and everyone listed below helped show America by example the true meaning of selfless generosity and altruism.
Thank you to:
Kim Ring with Ring Communications in Boston (we are thankful to everyone, but Ms. Ring definitely deserves recognition for not only her time and assistance in helping make this happen, but she truly put her heart into it as well, and she most definitely has a big heart. You can tell that she is the type of person that gives 100% to anything she sets her mind to.
Sam Laird – for the touching story he wrote that went viral overnight and helped make this possible
Ms. Linda Pizzuti Henry – for her kindness and generosity. I was in a public place with my husband when I checked my email and saw the email from her. My jaw dropped, and I’m pretty sure I was so shocked that I might have said a few unlady like words (by the looks of the people around us that turned their heads to look at me after I opened the email).
Mr. Ernie Boch, Jr. – I’ve heard recently that Mr. Boch is a very kind and generous man. That was definitely true for our family, and he went above and beyond.
The Entire Red Sox Organization, with special thanks to Stephanie Maneikis – we are more proud than ever to be fans of not only a great group of baseball players, but an amazing organization that really cares about their fans and goes out of their way to make dreams come true!
Westin Boston Waterfront – we are so appreciative of their kindness and generosity
Captain Kelley McCormick with Boston PD – Captain McCormick reached out early on and offered assistance, and we are forever grateful!
Each person that donated – Thank you so much! Your generosity showed us how many great people there are in this world that are willing to go out of their way to help others.
Each person that shared the story, which helped spread the word – every “retweet”, “share”, etc. was instrumental in making this happen!
GoFundMe – surprisingly much more than a funding website, those behind the scenes were extremely helpful and truly cared about our cause.
Reading all of the comments on the GoFundMe page, on social media sites and in the comments after the media stories was amazing. We were so thankful for each one, and we were reminded over and over (and over!) again about how truly selfless and generous people can be. I have to make a special shout out to the Yankee’s fans that made nice comments and/or donated (and please don’t be too upset when the Sox sweep this series against the Yankees!). We also liked reading posts and comments from those that shared their own personal stories, they were very touching!
I know there are so many more people I need to thank, but I’m pressed for time and want to get this initial post up. I will hopefully have time tonight to update and I will be adding photos.