Phyllis Ryerson has always loved the outdoors. As a girl growing up in Illinois, she used any excuse she could to get outside. She loved skiing, hiking, dog sledding and, most especially, horseback riding.

Now 87, and living in Grand Rapids, Phyllis has Stage 4 esophageal cancer and is under the care of Emmanuel Hospice. Her care team made at least one last wish come true for Phyllis Friday as they arranged for her to visit a stable in Kentwood so she can pet a horse one final time.

“When we were talking through the things that mattered most to Phyllis, she shared how much she loved being outside – and how much she loves horses,” said Chris Frank, her social worker at Emmanuel Hospice. “She has grown increasingly weak and has some mobility issues, but we were able to put our heads together and arrange transportation so that she could get outside again and revisit an activity that brings her great pleasure.

“At Emmanuel Hospice, we talk with our patients and families about how they want to live. We recognize the importance of spending your final days doing the things you love with the people you love."