Sometimes, the little things in life can give us just that – a little more life. That’s what a simple ride in a BMW did for a San Diego Army veteran Friday.
With help from his nurses, Rodger Graham carefully went from his wheelchair into the passenger seat of a white BMW i8 at the BMW of San Diego dealership in Kearny Mesa. With his window rolled down, an ear-to-ear smile, and a dealership employee at the wheel, Graham went for a spin.
The ride was on Graham’s bucket list, one of his final wishes as he undergoes care at Seasons Hospice & Palliative Care.
Graham suffers from Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), an inflammatory lung disease that causes obstructed airflow from the lungs. Some days, it’s difficult to even breathe. Due to his condition, Graham can’t handle long outings so he spends most days at home with his wife, Judy Graham.
On those days, he often dreams of BMWs, a car brand he’s admired for years. And, he repeats to Judy his wish to see as many BMWs as possible – and maybe even ride one.
"I’ve always had a strong desire for BMWs," Rodger told NBC 7. "Always loved the looks of them, the performances, everything."
Graham has been with Seasons Hospice & Palliative Care for one month and, recently, the facility asked him if there was anything he’d like to do, any unfulfilled dreams they could make happen.
Immediately, BMWs came to mind.
"He’s wanted to do this for a long time," Judy told NBC 7. "We’ve got a little repetition there with asking me every day to please find the place where the most BMWs are so he can go see them."
The facility arranged Friday’s visit to the dealership and the VIP treatment. The Grahams were in high spirits, admiring the cars close up.
For a few hours, Rodger got out of the house and forgot about the tough road ahead and behind him.
Judy said her husband has come close to death a few times, including suffering a ruptured aorta that he somehow survived.
"He’s come real close a couple times, and come through it each time, so there’s always hope," she said. "That’s the way you live. You want to put one foot in front of the other and just get through the day. There’s always hope."
Judy said watching her husband realize one of his dreams, albeit small, was delightful. His quality of life has declined due to his illness and he doesn’t get out much, except going to medical appointments and the occasional lunch outing afterward.
Judy said she likes "anytime that something happens that makes him happy."
Rodger was drafted in 1966 and served in the U.S. Army as a sharpshooter in Germany until his release in early 1968. His Army days were tough but he’s grateful he got through them.
After being discharged, Rodger worked for a communications company for 35 years. The Grahams lived in Denver, Colorado, for 34 years and moved to San Diego a few years ago.
Rodger has always been a car enthusiast so his special wish was fitting, especially for a man, who, for now, is focused on simply enjoying the ride.