For a man who loved the forests of Washington state as much as Edward Reis did, becoming bedridden in the latter years of his life could hardly have been easy.
Reis, 62, had loved nature so much that he had chosen to become a forest surveyor for part of his adult life.
When Reis was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2008, though, that came to an end, and eventually, he was taken to Evergreen Hospice, an adult nursing home in Edmonds, to receive special care.
Hospice Patient Makes Final Visit to the OutdoorsEd, who lived in an adult family home, had not been outside for…
Being cooped up in a nursing home was, understandably, hard on Reis, and the hospice chaplain Curt Huber knew it, and so he decided to do something about it. He cooperated with Leigh Gardner, Reis’s case manager, and the local fire department to get Reis out of the hospice and back into the woods, gurney and all.
“The wheels of a gurney are like a shopping cart, so very small wheels on a trail—and it wasn’t like one of those little running trails at all, it was like a hiking trail … And we would stop every so often, and he would just sit and listen,” Gardner told ABC.
“And you know, I went over to him, and I said, ‘Are you happy?’ He’s like, ‘I’m so happy,’”
According to firefighter and paramedic Shane Cooper, who was on the excursion that day, Reis was unable to speak much, but he did manage to utter a few words commenting on the moss, the trees, and the birds.
The fire department had been given special permission to escort Reis that day. No fee was charged. Meanwhile, a second fire station covered their shift during the trip.
Reis passed away a couple of weeks later, but he made sure to tell the good folks who helped make his final outing possible that he was grateful.
“That made it all worthwhile,” said Cooper to ABC. “That’s a highlight of my career. I’ve been here for 25 years, and that’ll stay one of the highlights.”