How instead of a nursing home, the grandson sent his 95-year-old grandfather on an epic journey

“Broke the system”.

Sometimes a person’s life path is worthy of the plot of a feature film. But it also happens the other way around – inspired by a movie story, a person wants to turn it into real life. Of course, I can’t say with 100% guarantee that the film with the participation of Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson “Until the Box” influenced the decision of Roger Gilbert, although this is very similar to the truth.

In this remarkable tragicomedy, two terminally ill patients meet in a clinic. One of them is a billionaire, and the second is a simple auto mechanic. One day, a billionaire accidentally finds a to-do list thrown out by a car mechanic, what he would like to do and where he would like to visit in the remaining days of his life.

The billionaire, who himself is one step away from death, decides to realize the dreams of his new acquaintance, and at the same time embarks on an exciting journey around the world with him.

Our story began with the fact that Roger Gilbert decided to take his 95-year-old grandfather from Illinois to Arizona after he was widowed. The World War II veteran lived with his wife for  67 years, they had seven children and many grandchildren, but Roger was loved. And he at one time also loved his grandfather and grandmother.

And when my grandmother got to the hospital, Roger even interrupted his rest and immediately flew to the old people. He found her right on the verge of death and spent the last three days by her bed, and his grandfather sat beside him, heartbroken. The grandson then lamented why the doctors did not look after the grandmother and why the local social security service did not assign them to a boarding house for the elderly.

To which the dying woman replied:  “Johnny we swore to each other that as long as one of us is alive, we will not cross the threshold of this institution.”  Grandfather Johnny Dimas nodded in agreement with his wife and wiped away tears. After the funeral of Mary, this issue again became relevant. In addition, Johnny unsuccessfully descended the stairs fell, and broke his femoral neck. Now he needed constant care.

Roger called his wife in Arizona and said that for the time being he would stay in Chicago. This delay lasted almost half a year, and during this time the grandson did not leave his grandfather for a minute.  Together they went to the store and for a walk in the park, though they had to buy a comfortable wheelchair for the old man. During this time, Johnny told his grandson a lot of interesting things from his life and also taught him how to cook deliciously. After all, at one time Johnny worked as a chef at the Drake Hotel in Chicago.

But this could not go on for long, and Roger had to return home to Arizona. It was then that he decided to take his grandfather out of the cold Chicago winter to warm Sedona. Moreover, during these six months, he gained experience in treating and caring for an elderly person. And although the flight for a disabled person was associated with minor difficulties, grandfather really liked this trip.

Returning home, Roger brought his plan to the discussion with his wife. It turns out that while he was talking all this time with his grandfather, he told about his unfulfilled desires. Being a family man, he could not afford to travel, because seven children is a huge burden of worries and responsibilities.

Now the grandson offered his wife to buy a car trailer and go on a trip around the country with his grandfather. My wife also liked this idea.

Without informing the old man of his plans, Roger purchased a comfortable trailer and registered for him the license plate “Dear Mary”, in honor of his grandmother. Then he drove him to a car repair shop, where, according to his order, they made a lifting platform for a wheelchair.

When this vehicle pulled up to Roger’s house, Johnny was sitting outside enjoying the evening rays of the setting sun. Seeing the polished trailer with such unusual, but painfully desirable words, Johnny burst into tears.

Having calmed down a little, he tried to load himself into the salon on his own and he succeeded without difficulty. That evening, joy in Roger’s house knew no bounds. Over a festive dinner, they discussed the routes Johnny would like to take.

And a day later, a company of three people and two dogs moved towards the Mexican border. And driving along with it to El Paso, they met many people who, seeing his veteran stripes, admired the war hero like a rock star. After all, there are very few veterans of that war left in the United States.

The old man was also impressed by meeting his grandson’s namesake, the camel “Roger”, at a dairy farm in Lycon Dari. The old man happily fed the animal all the white bread, and Roger himself treated the two-humped popcorn.

Then their journey continued to Louisiana. During the trip, they visited several World War II museums. And at the Texas Aviation Museum, travelers were even lucky enough to meet a comrade in combat. At that meeting, veterans shared their memories.

Johnny said that as a seventeen-year-old boy, he deceived a draft board officer about his age, after which he ended up serving in the US Marine Corps. His service took place in Guam, where he was seriously wounded. After the hospital, he was discharged, and he went in search of work in Chicago. True, upon arrival, he was immediately assigned to a dispensary for veterans who received post-traumatic syndrome.

In general, as the old man said, this treatment was more like a torture chamber. Soldiers returning from the war were treated with electroshock therapy. And he soon fled from there, after his roommate was carried out on a stretcher and he no longer got up.

Johnny said:  “It was a terrible war and it carried terrible consequences. Thank God that now our grandchildren have a peaceful sky above their heads.

After that meeting, the director of the museum gave the veterans T-shirts with the museum’s logo, as well as gift mugs with the inscription “To hell with Hitler.” This mug later became a favorite, grandfather drank coffee, milk, and juices from it.

The entire journey took less than a year. The trailer “Beloved Mary” traveled all over the south of the country. One of the main places to visit on their itinerary was the Texas town of Waco, where Johnny was born and raised before moving to Chicago. They drove through several of its streets, and grandfather was happy to recognize some of the houses.

As I already said, my grandfather was a noble culinary specialist, but he also loved to eat. Therefore, he insisted that the grandchildren try alligator and crayfish dishes. There were no such exotic dishes in Arizona, but Louisiana, where their route ended, was famous for them.

On the way back, before returning to Sedona, the grandfather asked his grandson to stop by Memphis first. There is the Graceland estate, which at one time belonged to the famous singer and actor Elvis Presley. It turns out that Johnny was not only his zealous fan. Once they were even rivals.

In his youth, Johnny danced well and at one time taught rock and roll to peers, and he also had a beautiful voice. That’s when he, along with Elvis, was cast in a nightclub.

Johnny said:  “Elvis was a genius, so he was not ashamed to lose, and they took him, and I was left behind”

This circumstance did not change his attitude towards the king of rock and roll, and now he wanted to visit the place where his idol died.

On the way to Memphis, Johnny became very agitated, and at some point he became ill.  Having reached the nearest clinic, the grandchildren handed him over to the doctors, while they themselves waited for the results in the trailer.

It was August 16 when the doctors pronounced Johnny Demas dead.  At that time, Elvis Presley’s single “Heartbreak Hotel” sounded on autoradio – a composition that brought national fame to the singer. The DJ announced that 43 years ago on this day, the king of rock and roll Elvis Presley died. “Probably the rivals met in heaven,”  said Roger, wiping away a tear.

Having received a lot of impressions in the circle of relatives, and not in a nursing home, Johnny Dimas died at the age of 96. As he recently said, it was the best year of his life.

And Roger got a whole collection of pictures taken during this year’s trip, and he decided to publish them in a separate blog.

The history of the Dimas-Gilbert family showed that we should not forget about the elderly – they are still able to surprise not only their loved ones but also the people around them.

Friends, if you liked the publication, I suggest watching another interesting story. Here I am talking about the great Russian navigator Evgeny Alexandrovich Gvozdev, who built a yacht on his balcony and made two voyages around the world. Grandfather ended his life at sea, to which he devoted his whole life …

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