A young student, who is only 18 years old and still in high school, dedicated the last six years of his life to taking care of his mother who was terminally ill, all while managing to complete his studies. Just before his mother’s passing, the boy made sure to fulfill her final wish.
Over the course of six years, Caleb Woodrum, an 18-year-old high school senior at Blanchard High School in Oklahoma, devoted himself to caring for his terminally ill mother, Stacie Scyrkels. Woodrum took on various responsibilities, ensuring that his mother attended her doctor’s appointments and providing support in any way he could.
According to a report by Good Morning America, Scyrkels suffered from serious health conditions including an atrial septal defect, congestive heart failure, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Despite her illness, Scyrkels kept the severity of her condition hidden from her children, including Woodrum, to protect them.
On March 27th, Woodrum made a phone call to the hospital and finally spoke to someone who revealed the true extent of his mother’s deteriorating health. Woodrum shared, “She didn’t really tell anyone.” Despite the shock of the news, Woodrum and his three older brothers cherished the final days they had with Scyrkels, which were made even more meaningful with the help of a compassionate nurse who created positive memories during that time.
During her last days, Scyrkels was mostly confined to her hospital bed, and she formed a close bond with her nursing staff. Her respiratory therapist, Kati Crouch, took the time to discuss with Scyrkels how she wanted to spend her remaining time, which is when Crouch learned about Scyrkels’s final wish. Determined to fulfill it, Crouch took charge and made sure it would become a reality.
Upon learning that Scyrkels expressed a desire to hold on until she could witness her youngest son’s high school graduation, Crouch sprang into action. With Crouch’s efforts, Scyrkels spent her final day surrounded by her loved ones, tightly holding her youngest son’s hand. One of the attendees remarked, “There wasn’t a dry eye in that room.”
Scyrkels’s Last Wish
When Crouch reached out to another nurse at Integris Health Southwest Medical Center, where Scyrkels was receiving care during her final days, Crouch already had a plan in mind. Crouch contacted Christina Hopkins to share the dying mother’s last request, and Hopkins readily agreed.
Working as a team, Crouch and Hopkins endeavored to create memorable and joyful moments for Scyrkels during her last days. Hopkins vividly remembers Crouch sharing her plans with her, saying, “I said, ‘OK,’ and I absolutely ran with it immediately.” Taking to social media, Hopkins reached out to her network, asking for donations of graduation decorations to make Scyrkels’s final wish come true.
With the generous support of the Integris staff, enough food and decorations were gathered to make Scyrkels’s last wish a reality by the following day. The hospital also contacted Greg Jackson, the principal of Blanchard High School, where Woodrum was enrolled, and he was eager to assist and accommodate the hospital’s plan.
Initially, Jackson and his administrative staff assumed the impromptu graduation ceremony would take place a few weeks later. However, when the Integris team clarified that they wanted to make it happen the next day, the reality of the situation dawned on them.
The school staff quickly sprang into action, acquiring all the necessary graduation paraphernalia, including a cap and gown. By Tuesday, March 28th, the school staff was at the hospital, prepared to send Woodrum off as a graduate. The only missing piece was Woodrum himself.
At noon, all the pieces had come together. Woodrum had arrived, proudly wearing his maroon graduation cap and gown. The hospital lobby had been transformed with decorations, including a massive sign that read, “Congrats Grad!” and two rows of flags spelling out “Congratulations Class of 2023” adorned the administrative desk.
Woodrum’s Graduation and Scyrkels’s Farewell
In Scyrkels’s hospital room, Woodrum’s family and a few other guests gathered as the young graduate walked in. They held the graduation ceremony right there, with Scyrkels watching from her hospital bed. Woodrum tightly held his mother’s hand throughout the entire ceremony, and they shared a poignant hug at the conclusion of it. Hopkins remembered:
“The hug that she gave her son took a lot out of her. But she did it and she persevered because that’s what she wanted. You can see the love pouring out of her in that moment.”
Woodrum expressed that the experience was beyond anything he had ever imagined, but he was grateful for the opportunity to share the moment with his mother. The mother and son posed for a photo, Woodrum in his graduation attire, holding his certificate in one hand and tightly embracing his mother with the other, capturing the bittersweet memory of their special day.
As Jackson congratulated Woodrum on his graduation, the guests presented him with a vase filled with flowers and handed him a small packet. Woodrum eagerly unwrapped the gift, revealing an inscription on the box that he had chosen for his mom’s upcoming birthday the following day.
Woodrum proudly recited the inscription out loud, “Mom, I’m grateful to have you as my mom. Love you gradually, Caleb.” With a beaming smile, the newly graduated Woodrum carefully removed a bracelet from the box and fastened it around his mother’s wrist, as the guests looked on with reverence.
Later, Hopkins reflected on the heartfelt moment, sharing that she was filled with overwhelming pride as she watched Woodrum receive the recognition he truly deserved for graduating high school while taking care of her. Jackson and the others involved were thrilled that they were able to create a cherished memory that would stay with Woodrum for the rest of his life.
On Wednesday, March 29, the day that Scyrkels turned 57, the mother-of-four passed away at 9:45 a.m. Woodrum recounted that his mother left him with a touching final message. The young man shared, “[My mom] told me she loves me and never to forget it. And I told her I will not.”