Whale-watching makes lasting memories

Friday Harbor | January 18, 2017
Islanders make patient's dying wish come true

When nothing more can be done, the next best thing is to fulfill a dream.

And that’s what Beth Williams-Gieger, Andrea Zikakis and others at PeaceHealth Peace Island Medical Center did when they learned of one patient’s dying wish to go whale-watching.

As a gift from Peace Island Volunteers, Claudia and her family spent a stunning November day on the waters near Friday Harbor, Washington, watching for whales.

Alas, the whales were a no show.

Everyday Moments - Claudia's Story

But Mother Nature had something more rare in store for them—a full double rainbow against a gorgeous blue sky—perfectly preserved on film for them by the ship’s skipper, Captain Jim Maya. In addition to the double rainbow, the family also saw an elephant seal--also very rare, especially since the seal "put on a show" for the family as though awaiting their arrival.

Beth, the director of Administrative Services at Peace Island, said the patient and her family had a “marvelous time” whale-watching, even without the whales.

In early January 2017, on what would have been Claudia's birthday, the family held a remembrance service at the hospital. PeaceHealth Peace Island's chaplain, Andrea, arranged the service. Beth provided cake and stayed late to make coffee. And Captain Jim joined the gathering, with a gift of framed photos from the excursion.

The family said the dream trip was the highlight of their loved one’s last days.

Fulfilling dreams might not be in their job descriptions, but it’s not unusual for people on the island to go above and beyond.

Kind of like a double rainbow.