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Carmen Toledano Posted: September 30, 2015

A Day by the Ocean

Carmen Toledano knew a lot about dreams- especially one in particular. The 88-year-old widow followed her husband's dream and traveled with him to the United States from Spain in the 1960s. Leaving friends and family behind, she uneasily settled in Vacaville where her husband had been born (his family had returned to Spain in the 1920s).

Through the years, Mrs. Toledano tried to get used to her new life, a new language and different customs. While she loved her husband and wanted to support his dream, she never adjusted to her new country. Instead, she longed to be back by the ocean in her beloved Southern Spain, watching the waterfront activity and seeing the boats come in.

"When my mother got very ill, we tried to think of something that would bring her peace and joy," said her youngest daughter, Trini. "She told us she wanted to see the ocean once more before she passed away and joined our father. When we learned about NorthBay Hospice & Bereavement's Dream of a Lifetime program, we hoped we could find a way to make her dream of a day by the ocean come true."

"We wanted to find a picture-perfect spot for Mrs. Toledano to enjoy her dream," recalls Veronica Wertz, "Dream of a Lifetime" coordinator for NorthBay Hospice & Bereavement. "We immediately thought of Tiburon with its amazing, scenic views and of Guaymas, a restaurant there that serves Mexican and Spanish-style food."

Driven by limousine to Tiburon with her three daughters and grandchildren, Mrs. Toledano loved the enticing views. It was bright and clear-perfect for seeing the splendor of the dappled light on the waves. She was escorted to an outdoor table and enjoyed a heaping plate of shrimp, good, strong coffee and a bite of dessert-all the things she hoped to eat and drink at the restaurant. Beaming at her family and holding the hand of her only grandson, she told everyone that this was one of the finest days of her life.

After lunch, the family strolled along the waterfront and watched the sailboats and the ferries gliding by. Mrs. Toledano's interest in people-watching was satisfied as couples, bike riders and energetic children shared the walkway she was traveling on via wheelchair.

When she returned to the modest Vacaville home where she had lived for more than 40 years, Mrs. Toledano went to her late husband's picture, as was her ritual, to speak to him about her day and to give him a kiss. "She told him what a wonderful time she had and how much she enjoyed seeing the ocean again," said Trini.

"We were so happy watching Mrs. Toledano savor her dream," said Wertz. "The love she felt for her family and the enjoyment of the food and the scenery were reflected in her face. We are always so pleased when our plans to make someone's dream come true results in great memories for all those who are a part of it."

Almost immediately after her dream was fulfilled, Mrs.Toledano's health deteriorated. Weeks after telling her children that she wanted one more look at the ocean, she quietly passed away.

NorthBay Hospice & Bereavement's Dream of a Lifetime program could not exist without the support of the community. For more information on how you can become a "dream maker," by either donating funds or providing services, click here.