Ambulance brings man from B.C. to Saskatchewan to fulfil dying wish
2,000-kilometre trip from Victoria to Moose Jaw satisfies Jim Jeffery's desire to be home
To what length would you go to fulfil a loved one's final wish?
For one family, checking off the final item of their father's bucket list meant a 2,000-kilometre road trip from Victoria, B.C., to Saskatchewan, so Jim Jeffery, 95, could be laid to rest at his old farmhouse.
Jim worked at his farm near Moose Jaw, Sask., for years before following his wife to Victoria. While on the farm, he built a road and a fence and he registered his own cemetery, where he planned to be buried someday.
Jim spent the last part of this life in a seniors home in Victoria, so his entire plan hinged on getting to Moose Jaw.
"He was very determined — he was able to communicate with us at the end that that was why he was hanging on, to get him back home, and so that's where it all started," his daughter, Denise Jeffery, told CBC Radio's BlueSky.
So the family decided to transport their fragile father in an ambulance.
He hung on, and we were able to get him home.- Denise Jeffery
Starting Aug. 26, Denise and her father boarded a 2 p.m. CST ferry from Victoria. They arrived in Moose Jaw the next day at around 6:30 p.m. CST.
"He did his part with staying alive, so we were happy with that," Denise said, adding at this point her father hadn't eaten for 17 days.
Along the way, the ambulance ride quickly turned into a convoy of family members.
"We had two more carloads of people join us in Vancouver, filled with grandchildren and great-grandchildren, so we had a trail ride on our way out to the Prairies," Denise said.
The paramedics tending to her father's needs during the ride were very courteous and became part of the journey, Denise added.
"They told me 'we don't usually get emotionally involved but our lives are changed forever,'" Denise said.
In the final stretch to the ranch a huge "welcome home" sign greeted the convoy, and Jim knew exactly where he was: home.
"There were a few close friends that were there," Denise said. "The next day people had heard about it so they all came out to the ranch, got to see dad, so he was really happy to spend extra time with people who haven't seen him in a while."
Jim passed away on Aug. 29.
A week later, Denise is holding on to the notion that her father gave his family the greatest gift: just enough time to fulfil his last wish.
"He hung on, and we were able to get him home," she said.
Denise said the trip ended up costing $6,500, but her father had enough money left to cover the expense.
With files from CBC Radio's BlueSky