A true joy ride to bring the smile back to a local veteran

Street Stories

COVENTRY, R.I. (WPRI) — It usually doesn’t take much for Patrick Lonergan to smile, even as he endures a terminal illness.

As his Beacon Hospice case manager Kim Murray puts it, “he’s the sweetest man.”

When Murray and the nurses at the Respiratory and Rehabilitation Center of Rhode Island in Coventry noticed he’d lost a bit of his good nature, they knew they had to do something about it.

“They said is there anything else we can do for you Patrick,” Lonergan recalled. “Three times they asked and the third time, I said, ‘A ride a convertible with some pretty nurses would be nice.'”

Earlier this week, a quarter-of-a-million dollar silver Bentley rolled up and the 67-year old Lonergan strolled out.

“Sometimes I wonder what I’m doing here,” Lonergan said. “Until I get up and walk.”

Terminal COPD has whittled away Lonergan’s lung power and left him in hospice care.

“That’s the fourth,” he said after a pre-ride hug. “That’s the fourth kiss on the cheek I got.”

Chase McIntosh from Inskip brought the wheels for the Vietnam War veteran, who served in South Korea but felt the ire from strangers when he came home.

“I was trying to be invisible,” Lonergan said. “Because it wasn’t a good time for American soldiers.”

His reason for picking this wish was to regain something, if only for a short ride, that COPD took away.

“Probably freedom,” he said. “Wind blowing through my hair. Anyone who thinks this isn’t a great wish? All I know is it’s fun.”

His next wish would be a bit more complicated but if possible, there would be another smiling face among the nurses in the sweet ride.

“Probably my best friend, Wheelchair Joe,” Lonergan said. “Joe passed a couple of months ago.”

As the breezy ride rolled along, it was obvious how much Lonergan appreciates his nurses, and how much they appreciate him.

“This is how unselfish he is,” Murray said. “Today was my birthday and he had flowers sent to me. Even with all this hoopla, he took the time to think of me, and made me cry of course.”

Lonergan puts it this way.

“I don’t know how to say it, but they’re more than willing to help,” he said.

Even if that help involves an absolute joy ride.

Send tips to Target 12 Investigator Walt Buteau at wbuteau@wpri.com and follow him on Twitter @wbuteau.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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