Audrey boards the USS Intrepid
Audrey Church, a 92-year-old resident of Brookdale Destin in Florida, was born and raised in Yonkers, New York. Audrey worked in New York City for many years as a typist at a large company downtown and she has lots of fond memories of the city: from watching the ice skaters on the Plaza while waiting for her husband to get off work, going out to dinner and seeing a Broadway show after saving up with her coworkers, and taking her family to see the Christmas tree and decorated store windows every year.
Although she loved the city, Audrey left New York on the night of her wedding to move to Wisconsin where her new husband planned the attend school. Since then Audrey moved around the country following her husband’s service in the Coast Guard before settling in Florida nearly 30 years ago. For years Audrey wished to revisit New York to see how the city has changed. More specifically, she wanted to see the Intrepid Museum in the Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood.
The Intrepid is an aircraft carrier which was active in the Pacific during WWII and afterward. Audrey’s son Richard served on the Intrepid as the pharmacist’s mate. He did two tours on the ship and had a very good experience in the Navy which began his lifelong career as a certified pharmacist. Richard passed away some time ago and ever since Audrey has wished to be able to see where he lived and worked for such key years of his life and career.
On May 19, 2016 Wish of a Lifetime and Brookdale were thrilled to send Audrey and her daughter Beth to visit the Intrepid and spend a few days in New York. The incredible team at the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum rolled out the red carpet for Audrey and took her and Beth on a private tour hosted by one of the museum’s historians.
They were given special access to the Sick Bay where Richard worked and Audrey was surprised to discover that it was little more than a “cubby hole”. She says that while she was there she could just imagine where Richard must have sat to write the letters he sent home to her and Beth telling them all about what he and his crewmates were doing.
Although some of his letters had more blacked out lines than words by the time they reached her Audrey still cherishes each one. Richard’s letters came to life for Audrey during her time aboard the Intrepid. Before leaving the ship Audrey and Beth got to meet the President of the Intrepid Museum who gifted them each a gold coin commemorating the ships 70th anniversary.
For Audrey the best surprise of the whole trip was when a scrapbook from the ship was brought out and she was shown two pictures of Richard during his service that she had never seen before. She looks forward to receiving copies of these photos from her new friends at the Intrepid and will hold them dear as memories of her son and her Wish of a Lifetime for many years to come.
Photos courtesy of Erika Kapin Photograpy