Joan’s Last Wish: How Strangers Saved Christmas for a Dying Woman and Her Cat

Stephanie Sonju
Thanks to Dorian Wagner and her friends, Isis has found a new forever home.

When Wagner and Wynne told Price they had found a new home for Isis, she was overjoyed. “I cried,” she says. “A big weight had been lifted.”

The news that Isis would be safe changed Price's entire attitude and demeanor. “The next day, the nurse told me I looked completely different. She said I was shining!” Price says. “My doctor and social worker said the same thing.”

But the best gift came when Wagner was able to secure permission from hospice management to bring Isis to visit Price. It was a happy reunion for both of them. “Each time she smelled me, she began meowing and then got into my lap,” Price says. “She didn’t move for two hours. She stayed there, purring and cuddling.”

The pair has had two visits so far and plan to have more. Though Isis was originally scheduled to move to her new home before Christmas, the team decided to keep her with Price as long as possible. “They truly love each other,” Wagner says. “It’s good for both of them.”

Caring for the Caregiver

Once Wagner and her Facebook community had taken care of Isis, they turned their attention to Price herself. Wagner, Wynne and another friend, Kim Droze, took Price some of the things she had left behind in her apartment when she was taken to the hospital, including clothing and her laptop. The women also decorated her roomfor Christmas. When Price's Kindle broke, they replaced it with a new one and helped fund her Amazon account so she could do more reading.

But Wagner's online community felt there was more to be done for Price. A Facebook friend started a holiday card campaign; soon, nearly 100 Christmas cards, addressed to Price and sent from around the world, showed up in Wagner’s mailbox. “She got such a kick out of them,” Wagner says.

Each time they visit, Wagner and her friends take Price little treats, like her favorite raspberry cheesecake breakfast bars and frozen tiramisu. “I’m so spoiled!" Of Wagner, Price says, "She’s my fairy godmother.”

But Wagner is quick to point out that it’s been a team effort. “It’s incredible,” she says. “Nobody in this community knows Joan, many of them don’t even know me. But here they are, coming together and offering to help, buy Joan things she needs or even just send encouraging words.”

The other five patients in the hospice center are also benefiting from the kindness of strangers. One Facebook friend sent poinsettias to each of the residents to brighten their rooms. And Wagner sometimes takes requests before visiting the hospice. “One day they all wanted McDonald's cheeseburgers,” she says with a laugh.

As for Price, she’s cherishing the time she has left with Isis, who continues to visit her in the hospice. “I love her. I’ll miss her. But as long as she has a good home where she’s taken care of and truly loved, I’m happy," she says. "I’m at peace.

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