Connie Willhite, a U.S. Navy veteran in the Hospice Care Unit at the VA Medical Center only wanted two things before he died: to be baptized and to catch just one more fish. He was at death’s door in a losing battle with cancer but wanted to prepare himself to “cross over.”
Greg Senters, hospice social worker helped Willhite to prepare the trip, bringing bait and fishing gear along with them. There was a pond just behind the VA Medical Center and knew there were fish there.
It’s called fishing, it’s not called catching.” Senters said, bracing for failure if the pair didn’t catch anything.
But Willhite didn’t care so much about catching the fish, he was more concerned about just being out and about to do his favorite thing again. The simple act of being outdoors was more than he could hope for.
For a few minutes, Willhite was no longer a cancer patient. He was no longer waiting to die. He was living and enjoying the feeling of fishing.
And when he caught his first fish, his face lit up. They continued fishing and went on to catch 3 more. Since that day, each time family members visited him, he was able to talk about the fish that he caught and his recent baptism.
Willhite passed peacefully on August 29, 2016.
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