From her hospice bed in Arlington, Virginia, Emily Pomeranz said she wanted two last things – a Cleveland Indians hat and a mocha milkshake from a restaurant back home in Ohio.
Pomeranz, 50, was dying of pancreatic cancer, and an old friend, Sam Klein, wanted to make her wishes come true.
The first was simple.
The second would require some ingenuity.
Klein said in a Facebook post this week that he contacted Tommy’s Restaurant in Cleveland and inquired about a long-distance milkshake delivery.
“‘Yes. We will figure out a way to do this,’” Klein quoted the popular restaurant’s owner, Tommy Fello, as saying.
Within days, Klein said, that mocha milkshake had made it some 375 miles, across several states, to Pomeranz’s bedside.
“This was a huge surprise,” Klein wrote in his post. “She was thrilled. She shared it with her family. She talked about it for days and days.
“She shared the story with her friends back in Cleveland and here in the D.C. area. It was something that made everyone smile. A woman’s request for one last milkshake from her favourite restaurant. Wish granted!”
Klein told The Washington Post that he and Pomeranz grew up together in Cleveland Heights.
They had both moved to Washington, where Pomeranz, an attorney, worked for the Department of Veterans Affairs. Klein oversees ESL courses in a school district in Virginia.
Klein said he went to visit Pomeranz in hospice in late June and he asked her whether she needed anything.
When she mentioned a Tommy’s milkshake, they started reminiscing about the local favourite.
Fello opened his namesake restaurant in 1972, when he was only 18.
When he got Klein’s email, he said, he knew he had to find a way to make the milkshake delivery happen.
He called UPS to find out what he needed to do, then froze the beverage solid, packed it in dry ice and rushed it to a UPS truck.
“I would have even driven up there if I’d had to,” he told The Post.
Klein said the milkshake arrived on a June morning around breakfast time – to Pomeranz’s surprise and delight.
“She called and said, ‘You were behind this, weren’t you?’ ” he said.
Klein had made the request; Fello had done the rest.
“This story really is about a good-hearted person doing something positive for a stranger,” Klein said.
He said he and Pomeranz could not stop laughing about how “this childhood restaurant, this nostalgic restaurant, shipped you a milkshake.”
And that laughter is a memory Klein will cherish.
“Emily had this trademarkable laugh,” he said.
Pomeranz died about a month later, on July 28, according to her obituary, which stated she will be remembered for her “laugh, her sense of wonderment, her persistence in the face of adversity, and her ability to connect with everyone around her.”
Klein sent Tommy’s a photo showing Pomeranz, sitting in her hospice bed, holding a melted – but still chilly – mocha milkshake.
Fello said when he saw her “with a gigantic smile on her face,” he was overwhelmed.
“My heart was beating out of my chest – I was so happy,” he said.
He said that he hoped the milkshake “brought her back to a comforting time” living in her home town.
“I’m so happy I was a part of that,” he said.