Edward Reis was known by friends and family for being a nature lover.
As a former forest ranger, he lived to be outside surrounded by nature. Sadly in 2008, Reis was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) and he could no longer leave his bed. Later, Reis was moved to Evergreen Hospice in Washington state where he was taken care of.
Reis had a hospice nurse named Leigh Gardner who would bring him warm chocolate chip cookies every Friday. Gardner would visit Reis three days a week, and over time, the two formed a strong bond. “[Reis] was a gentle, gentle soul”, Gardner said.
Reis then told Hospice Chaplain Curt Huber of how hard being away from nature was for him. Huber asked Gardner if she could find a way to let him see the outdoors one last time.
Gardner happily took on the job. Gardner contacted the Snohomish County Fire District 1 and asked if they would be able to help her make this dream come true. A plan was coming together and soon Reis would have his final wish granted.
Only two weeks later, a fire truck and a fire department medical unit was at Evergreen Hospice to take Reis to Meadowdale Beach Park in Edmonds.
They took him a three hour journey through the park as they wheeled him around.Reis listened to babbling brooks and gazed out at the trees. Gardner asked him how he felt and Reis said “I’m so happy. ” with a huge smile on his face.
Reis’ was finally home again and the team was happy to help.
Shane Cooper, one of the firefighters who helped Reis on his three hour visit with nature talked about how it helped the team, too.“We saw a lot of bad things up there in Oso, and this was a time to just watch somebody at the end of their life enjoy what they could.
It felt good inside to help him and watch his face.The payment was in his expression when he was out there,” Cooper said to ABC news. The team had just been working in Oso, Washington where a deadly mudslide hit a community, killing more than 40 people.
Reis passed away around two weeks after his trip outdoors. But this beautiful moment is living on with those he touched.
“For the first couple of weeks after he’d passed away I was like, ‘It’s so weird not going three times a week and working so hard to take care of him.’,” Gardner said, noting how much his passing was felt, “It felt a little odd. So I miss his presence and just, you know, he was a gentle, gentle soul.”
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