When Mark Patterson was told he had two weeks left to live, he had one dying wish: to see his adopted daughter graduate from school.
So Lindale High School in Texas threw a mock ceremony for student Christian, all so Mark could attend the ceremony, held on the patio of The Hospice of East Texas.
Mark was diagnosed with stage four esophageal cancer in January. The disease had spread to the lymph nodes near his kidneys, and his organs began to fail when he was placed in the hospice.
He was told he wouldn’t have long left.
When asked for his final wish, Mark told his wife, Darla, he wanted to see Christian graduate high school. Her official graduation wasn’t until May, and the family worried he wouldn’t survive long enough – so they decided to throw an early graduation just for him.
An old coworker of Mark gave Darla the idea, suggesting the family got in touch with the school, where Mark had previously worked as a bus driver, to make it happen.
Mark was brought out in his bed to watch the ceremony on Wednesday 20 March, joined by other students, teachers, and Mark’s colleagues and friends.
The proud dad was able to see Christian walk down a path in her graduation cap and gown, in a moment shared on Facebook by the school.
The caption read: ‘We feel so honored to have been able to present one of our senior students, Christan Patterson, with a mock graduation in honor of her father. Her father, Mark Patterson, is a former bus driver for Lindale ISD
‘He is currently in hospice battling cancer and his wish was to see his daughter graduate. Please keep this wonderful family in your thoughts and prayers.’
At the ceremony, Christian said: ‘I just know my dad is very caring and very loving, and that he thanks everyone that was a part of this. And if he wasn’t on medicine and everything, he would be crying right now.’
The family has now set up a Go Fund Me page to raise money for the massive expenses Darla is facing. The page explains that in addition to Mark’s cancer diagnosis, Darla’s son was recently diagnosed with eye cancer, while her parents were in a car wreck back in September, and now have difficulty taking care of themselves.