Hospice Foundation Brings Family Cross-country for Birthday Celebration

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Art Bellone wasn’t afraid when his doctors told him it was time to enter hospice care. Bellone says he’s lived a long life, full of celebrations, laughter and family. If Bellone had one wish, though, it would be to have his twin sons together again. His son Paul lives nearby the Smith Crossing nursing care center where Art lives, but Paul’s brother Tom is more than 2000 miles away in California.

Art Bellone wasn’t afraid when his doctors told him it was time to enter hospice care. Bellone says he’s lived a long life, full of celebrations, laughter and family. If Bellone had one wish, though, it would be to have his twin sons together again. His son Paul lives nearby the Smith Crossing nursing care center where Art lives, but Paul’s brother Tom is more than 2000 miles away in California.

“I just wanted to see him again,” Art Bellone said. “That was the only thing.”

A final gathering for the family would be the icing on the cake of Art Bellone’s already full life. But his son Tom has multiple sclerosis, and his own medical needs make his budget for traveling tight. Tom and his wife weren’t even sure they would be able to make the trip from California for their father’s funeral when the time comes.

So Paul and Tom Bellone reached out to their father’s caregivers from Passages Hospice and the Passages Hospice Dream Program. Funded by the Passages Hospice Charitable Foundation, the Dream Program helps patients complete a project, trip or event that will improve their quality of life and bring their family closer together in what is otherwise a difficult time.

Fortunately for Art Bellone, bringing family together was the top of his list. When he found out that Tom and his wife received roundtrip airplane tickets from the Passages Hospice Dream Program, he felt as though a burden had been lifted.

“It felt fantastic. I’ve never heard of such a thing,” he said.

Art’s caregivers at Passages Hospice were determined to not only bring the family together, but to give them a day to remember. So Passages threw Art a belated, but very deserved, 92nd birthday party. Art and his sons, surrounded by nieces, nephews, grandchildren, in-laws and other assorted relatives, enjoyed an afternoon of cake and ice cream, and most importantly, each other’s company.

Art says he will rest easy now, with the memory of that party and the sight of his twin sons side-by-side firmly in his mind. For his sons, the knowledge that their father’s final dream is complete will make the months to come a little more comfortable as well.

“We were just blown away,” Tom Bellone said. “It was just fabulous.”
Caption information:

Art Bellone of Orland Park blows out the candles on his cake at his 92nd birthday party during a family reunion, made possible by the Passages Hospice Charitable Foundation.

Art Bellone and his grandson celebrate Art’s 92nd birthday at a party thrown by Art’s hospice provider, Passages Hospice.

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Charlene Sligting
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