One of the hardest parts of coping with a terminal illness is knowing you may not be able to do your favorite things for much longer. Connie Willhite, a U.S. Navy combat veteran from Georgia, didn’t let his illness stand in the way of getting in one last fishing trip.
Willhite was admitted into the hospice unit at the Carl Vinson VA Medical Center after his health began to fail from cancer. He told the hospital staff he had two final wishes. First, he asked to be baptized. Then, he simply wanted to catch one more fish.
“There’s nothing like fishing,” Willhite said. “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, but as long as I can go, I want to fish.”
After Willhite was baptized in his hospital room by a VA chaplain, the staff moved him onto a motorized hospital bed. This allowed him to be transported to a nearby lake, where he was able to enjoy his final fishing trip.
“I’ll never forget the look on his face,” social worker Greg Senters explained. “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.”
Sadly, Willhite passed away on Aug. 29. However, his family and friends at the hospital are thankful that they were able to fulfill his final wishes.