Terminally ill woman gets wish of attending city's Fourth of July parade

When a terminally ill woman said she wanted to attend her Massachusetts town's Fourth of July parade, hospice nurses and a group of volunteers worked to make it happen.

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Marguerite Sherman, 76, was placed in hospice this week after ending dialysis for kidney disease, The Berkshire Eagle reported. Her dying wish was to attend the Pittsfield Fourth of July parade, where she had met her husband, Daniel, decades earlier.

On Tuesday, Sherman met with social worker Kerry Gattasso, who asked if there was anything she could do to make her happy. Sherman replied that she had never missed a Fourth of July parade and was sad she wouldn't be able to make it this year. Then, Sherman asked if the outing could be arranged.

"She said, `I might cry, I might yell and I might look ungrateful, but I promise it will mean the world to me,' " Gattasso said. "Those were her exact words."

Gattasso and June Green, another social worker, promptly got to work trying to make Sherman's wish a reality.

A local ambulance company offered six volunteer paramedics and an ambulance to transport Sherman to the parade. Sherman's husband contacted police officers, who secured a viewing area along the parade route for Sherman and her care team.

By 10 a.m., Sherman was in a gurney under a tent. A team of nurses were nearby to keep her comfortable and hydrated.

"We wanted to keep her comfortable without knocking her out. It's a balance," Green said.

Sherman was able to watch the parade as many members of the community stopped by her tent to say hello. Her visitors included Mayor Linda Tyer, state Sen. Adam Hinds and state Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier.

Green said she and others who work in hospice care consider helping patients with "bucket list" items a big part of the job.

"People think we're all about morphine and death," Green said. "We're all about quality of life. We'd move mountains to make this stuff happen."

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