Dying man's wish comes true in Wilmington

Reported by Max Winitz - bio|email  
Posted by Theresa Swenson - email

WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - A resident at Britthaven Nursing Home had a lifelong wish come true Saturday.

Vietnam Veteran Sheldon Taylor is 61-years-old and is battling cancer of the esophagus, but his hardships don't end there.

Taylor suffered a stroke almost a decade ago and lost the ability to speak.  Then, in 2004, his wife passed away.

One might not ever guess the heartache Taylor has survived - it's overpowered by his love for life and his love for family and friends.

Behind his famous smile that has touched the lives of so many, Taylor only had one request - to ride a Harley Davidson before he dies.  Taylor's sister, Sharon Smith, along with caretakers and volunteers, knew they had to make it happen.

So, in between the dark and unpredictable rain clouds recently brought on by Hurricane Bill, the skies opened wide and the sun shone bright as Taylor cruised to Fort Fisher in the side car of a Harley Davidson.  With the warm wind against his face and a smile that stretched as far as the eye could see, Taylor felt the freedom he has always longed for.

His trip may have only been 50 miles round trip, but somehow friends and family believe his journey, today, will help him as he travels to his next destination.

Taylor's time here may be limited, but his resiliency and ever-smiling face serves as an inspiration to countless of individuals who have had the opportunity to know him.

"He always makes me smile," said Brad Crumpler, nursing home volunteer.  "Even when I'm feeling down, he always makes me smile.  That's what keeps me going during the day.  I'm going to miss him so much."

Such a fitting send off for a man who brings joy to the lives of others, even when he's so close to losing his own.

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