Berenice’s best day

Berenice’s best day

The full version of this article was written by Sherryn Groch with photo by Karleen Minney for the Canberra Times. Click here to read more and watch a video of the “best day” of Berenice’s life.

For world traveller Berenice Benson, New York remains the one city left on her bucket list. The 85-year-old resident of  Uniting Mirinjani regularly shared her dream to travel to the Big Apple and meet a NY cop with Jo Sumner who coordinates the leisure and wellness program at the aged care home.

On Thursday, Berenice burst into tears when Detective Howard Shank of the New York Police Department stepped through her elevator doors – in uniform.

Berenice laughs and claps as she trys on Howard Shank's NYPD hat.

Berenice meets Detective Howard Shank.

The emotional surprise was more than two years in the making, says Jo Sumner​. Since Berenice moved from Melbourne to join her brother John and his wife Judy as part of the aged care home’s ‘household’ model, Jo had been searching for a way to bring her New York dream into reality.

After some detective work of her own, she asked close friend and Australian Federal Police officer Stephen Daniel to get in touch with the New York office. Within days, the response came – Detective Shank happened to be in Sydney and could drive down to the capital that very week.

Jo was also in tears as she watched the detective and his adventurous host take a stroll around the home.  “As part of the household model of aged care we have here, I always ask people ‘what’s something you’ve always wanted to do?'” she said. “We’ve had someone go hot air ballooning and on a police ride-along with the siren, but this for me was the most emotional.”

Berenice, who has dementia, said she felt about 20 years old again as she embraced the officer and proudly modelled his blue police cap.

“I never married and I never had children but this excitement, this has been the best day of my life,” she said.

Click here to read more via the Canberra Times.

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