DUBLIN, Ga. — A VA medical center granted a dying Georgia veteran’s last wish – to go to the river and fish one final time.
U.S. Navy combat veteran Connie Willhite was admitted to the Hospice Care Unit at the Carl Vinson VA Medical Center in Dublin, Georgia, recently when his health declined.
Discussing his end-of-life care with staff, Willhite made his wishes known: a baptism, then a last fishing trip.
“There’s nothing like fishing. Even when they’re not biting, it’s still a good day to be outside. I know I’m dying and the cancer is going to get me,” Willhite said, “but as long as I can go, I want to fish.”
During even the most challenging parts of his life, Willhite said he had found that fishing could soothe his mind and help him escape—for at least a little while—from some of the stressful aspects of life and also help calm some painful memories.
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With so many pleasing memories of fishing trips past, as he looked toward the end of his life, he wanted to go fishing one more time.
With the help of a motorized hospital bed, Willhite, accompanied by a social worker and nursing staff, was taken to the lake where he baited up for the last time on August 26.
And he completed the final task: he caught his fish.
“I’ll never forget the look on his face. After all the preparation, we had no idea if he would actually catch anything. Seeing Mr. Willhite achieve success in his final days was more than gratifying, it’s a memory that I’ll always cherish. Moments like that make me proud to be in social work and to serve veterans,” said social worker Greg Senters.
Willhite passed away peacefully just three days later.
Cox Media Group