If you knew you were facing the last days of your life, where would you wish to be?
Ronald Starr knew, and his wish came true, gazing out on the shimmering waters of the Apalachicola River.
Diagnosed in March with the first signs of respiratory and kidney failure, Starr, from Hall County, Georgia, spent two weeks in the hospital. It was then he received the devastating news.
“In that two weeks the doctor told him that medically there was nothing more they could do,” said Starr’s daughter-in-law Tara.
“We were grasping at false hope, He had very little lung capacity, his kidneys were failing,” she said. “Everything chain reacted and shut down.”
A hospice nurse, Tara Starr, wife of Starr’s son William, took care of her father-in-law in his final days. First on her list was to have him fill out a Five Wishes form, a living will intended to help terminal patients die with dignity.
“He told us where he wanted his ashes to be, and where he wanted his last trip to be,” she said. “He was confined to home with oxygen, he hadn’t left his home in years.”
For much of his life, Ronald Starr, 71, had loved coming down to Franklin County, enjoying the beach on St. George Island, staying at the Sportsman’s Lodge in Eastpoint.
“He fished out everywhere out on the bay in multiple different fishing locations,” said Tara. “This was the only place he liked to vacation I believe from the time he was a child.”
This time for the 71-year-old, five years out of retirement as an electrician, there would be no fishing. He would be confined to his room, but at least there would be a chance to make a last trip to paradise.
“He spent his last week, nearly a week, here. He got to see the bay,” said Tara.
Sportsman’s Lodge owners Bob and Etta Allen, longtime friends of Starrs, helped make the final trip come to pass.
“Mr. Bob and Miss Etta made sure they he had a room that was wheelchair-assisted and had a view of the bay that was his favorite place. He knew where he was at,” said Tara.
When she knew the end was nearing, she decided it was time to head home to Hall County.
“He said he didn’t want to go home he wanted to stay,” said Tara. “I was trained better than that; I knew that it was not a recovery event. The next step was to go home and be as comfortable as possible.”
The family left Sportsman’s Lodge May 9; Ronald Starr passed away May 10. “It was a rough ride home,” she said.
“People like Bob and Miss Etta deserve all our gratitude. They provided that for him,” said Tara. “There’s no way to repay them for everything they did for our family. They did above and beyond anyone can think of being possible.”