One Last Ride

By: Dana Casadei

Linda Woolard is a woman of many words. Yet, when asked about the Dream Cruise held in her honor on June 3, she had a hard time describing how she felt about the day.

“I laughed, I cried, I screamed, I clapped,” Linda said. “I had every emotion you could ever have.”

The 65-year-old has attended all 21 Woodward Dream Cruises but recently entered Angela Hospice’s Care Center as a patient. Linda and her friend of 47 years, Christine Cope, both thought that Linda wouldn’t be able to attend this August’s Cruise. So the two women made a plan for their own Dream Cruise, Linda said. They would go for a drive on a really nice day, put the top of Christine’s convertible down, and get some ice cream.

It started off as a simple plan. But Christine had bigger ideas.

Start Your Engines
On June 1, Christine came to visit Linda and told her that she had called 7 Action News about her. WXYZ then got in contact with Cruis’News and shared Linda’s story, which then spread across the internet. WXYZ also put Christine in contact with the head coordinator of the Dream Cruise.

All of this led to hundreds of classic car owners making Linda’s wish come true, for one very special ride down Woodward Avenue.

Some of Linda's special items in her room, including
her Linda's Dream Cruise sign.
“To see all the cars…just to hear the roar of the motors…it was awesome,” Linda said. “It was so exciting.”

The day began around 11 a.m. when Linda and Christine arrived to see a massive parking lot full of classic cars. Linda said that the cars were all parked in rows and they cruised up and down. While they drove by, people cheered and clapped for Linda. Some even asked for her autograph.

“My friend got on the megaphone and said, ‘Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines!’” Linda said. “That roar [of the cars], I mean, it got me. It was chill-inducing.”

The rest of the afternoon included a ride down Woodward, something the two women have done since the late ‘60s. The group then had lunch at Duggan’s Irish Pub, where they took over most of the restaurant, before getting back on the road.

The segment on Linda’s Dream Cruise, which originally aired June 8, got so much attention that WXYZ 7 did a follow-up interview with Linda and Christine via Skype, which you can watch here. Linda said that seeing herself on TV was a very surreal experience.

A Different Kind of Ride
Driving up and down Woodward Avenue has special meaning to Linda and Christine. It started as a way to chase boys around, Linda said. But over the years it’s become a safe haven, where if either woman was having a rough week they could take a ride down Woodward and everything would be OK. Needless to say, the duo has been through a lot together, including Linda’s decision to enter hospice care.

After a serve infection in Linda’s foot caused her to lose her leg last year she entered a rehabilitation center. Then her insurance ran out, so she was moved to extended care in a nursing home. In the middle of this her husband suddenly died.

“I was depressed because I lost my leg. My husband died. Then the cat got sick and we had to put him down,” Linda said. “It was like, OK, I’ve had enough.”

Linda has multiple photo albums from her Dream Cruise.
Christine, a retired social worker, was actually the one that suggested Angela Hospice to Linda and told her what a beautiful and awesome place it was. After much thought Linda decided to go off dialysis for kidney failure and enter the Care Center. She said the Care Center has been a blessing.

Linda isn’t the typical kidney failure patient though. According to her doctor, a person in kidney failure normally lives about two weeks after they go off dialysis. Our interview was on the two-week mark.

“I still feel good,” Linda said. “Normally by now you wouldn’t be feeling well. It’s just…really weird.”

“I have to believe that it’s the power of prayer because I don’t know what else is going on,” she continued.

When asked what sort of advice she would give to people that have a loved one going through a similar experience, she teared up immediately.

“Support them, even if you don’t understand their decision,” she said. “If it doesn’t seem right to you, support them [anyway] because they need it. They need all the love and support you can give them.”

Luckily, Linda does have the support of friends like Christine and her Angela Hospice team, who she says are like family to her.

“There’s not one person I have encountered that is not very kind and very compassionate,” Linda said. “What better way is there to go out than with the love and care that’s here?”

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