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Publish Date: 5/24/2005

Eleanora Schurer, 86, of Scottsdale, Ariz., brushes the hair out of the face of her sister Ann Sharp, 76, of Longmont. The two were reunited after 11 years Monday. Sharp has only a few weeks to live due to chronic heart failure.Times-Call/Erin McCracken

Last wish reunites sisters

LONGMONT — Eleanora Schurer used a walker Monday afternoon to maneuver through the door of her little sister’s 17th Avenue home.

Once inside her walker nudged up to another.

“Look at you and look at me. How did this happen,” she laughed. “Just because we’re sisters, we have to use walkers?”

Surrounded by four generations of family, sisters Ann Sharp, 76, of Longmont and Schurer, 83, of Scottsdale, Ariz., met for the first time in 11 years — Sharp’s dying wish.

She had only verbalized that hope last week, which triggered a series of events that brought her sister to her thanks to a nonprofit group called the Dream Foundation.

“I think it is kind of fantastic,” said Sharp’s daughter, Kathy Nimark, as she played host to an endless stream of guests Monday afternoon.

Last week, the family was told Sharp is only expected to live for a couple more weeks.

Sharp is under the care of a visiting nurse and social worker through HospiceCare of Boulder and Broomfield Counties because she is suffering from chronic heart failure and has been sick for about 14 years.

She breathes using the assistance of an oxygen tank and lives with her large family, including daughter, grandson and granddaughter, her granddaughter’s fiance, and three great-grandchildren.

Sharp confided to her social worker that because her twin grandsons have been born the only remaining hope she would have is to see her sister once again. The pair haven’t seen one another since Schurer’s 75th birthday party because of financial and time constraints.

It had been so long, the family was hard-pressed to calculate the time lapse.

With Brandy, Sharp’s Pekingese dog, bouncing at their ankles, the sisters sat to reacquaint themselves with a small group of reporters, photographers, and people from the nonprofit groups on hand.

“Oh my goodness, so many years,” Schurer said. “I am 86-years-old, now. How old are you?”

Sharp’s bout of nerves earlier in the day seemed to be long gone, and the two settled in to hold and coo over Sharp’s 8-week-old great-grandsons, Dylan and Sean, while comparing notes on family, pets, and time away.

Debbie Lieberman, a spokeswoman with SecureHorizons from PacifiCare, said Monday that Sharp’s hope to see her sister set social workers into action. She said he put in paperwork to the Dream Foundation, a nonprofit organization that grants the final wishes of terminally ill adults. Lieberman’s group donated $75,000 to the foundation to put toward the group’s wish-granting mission. By Thursday of last week, representatives from the Dream Foundation contacted Schurer’s daughter, Patty Brandwein, in Arizona and they began arrangements to bring the pair to Colorado to spend a week with Sharp and her family.

Brandwein said she has long admired the Make-A-Wish Foundation and was stunned to hear about the Dream Foundation. She said she is terribly grateful to have the opportunity visit the aunt to whom she used to be so close.

The sisters grew up in Brooklyn, N.Y. Their accents make that clear. Families brought them to the west — Schurer to Arizona in the ’70s and Sharp to Colorado in the ’90s. Money and distance kept them apart.

“I am so thankful for the two of them seeing each other,” Brandwein said.

Pierrette J. Shields can be reached at 303-684-5273, or by e-mail at pshields@times-call.com.

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