Verna Hits the Road: A Love Story

John and Donna Walking Outside

To celebrate my favorite holiday, Valentine’s Day, my husband and I often buy a common gift that we can both enjoy together—a piece of art for our home or a new gadget we both want. In addition, we always set aside time to do something special together. Spending time together and making new memories is how we celebrate our relationship and our love. I was reminded of this when I heard Verna von Hofgaarden’s story. Verna is a Brookdale resident who is living with dementia. When she was young, she loved to take motorcycle trips with her husband. Thanks to our partnership with Wish of a Lifetime, we helped her relive those special memories. 

Except for a quick spin on the back of a Harley for her 92nd birthday, Verna hadn’t enjoyed a motorcycle ride in 60 years. But this past August, the 100-year-old was back in the saddle when we granted her Wish of riding in a sidecar.  

Always the adventurous type, Verna wanted to remember the exhilarating feelings that came with riding a motorcycle, something she associates with her husband Henry, the love of her life. Every summer, she and Henry took cross-country motorcycle trips. The two enjoyed camping and seeing the sites, especially in California. These road trips went on until the mid-1950s, when their careers and children took up more of the couple’s time. 

Verna, a resident of the Clare Bridge program at Brookdale Fort Collins in Colorado, often reminisces about her late husband and her time traveling the country with him. “She lights up anytime she sees a motorcycle,” says Meghan Beard, Clare Bridge program coordinator. “Just by spending time with Verna, I could see how important motorcycle riding was in her life.”

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