Staff and volunteers pull together to fulfill a dying man’s wish
When Mark Goldsmith was a patient in Palliative Care at Mount Sinai Hospital, he dedicated himself passionately to a personal project: Building an intricate model ship that he would one day leave to the hospital. Mr. Goldsmith carefully assembled the boat piece by piece, from the tiny deck planks to the miniature masts, persevering even as his health faltered.
He told staff that it was his dying wish to see his project completed, and now, that wish has been fulfilled.
Staff and volunteers came together to honour Mr. Goldsmith’s wish by helping him finish the ship when he was ailing, and then carrying on the task after he died last March.
Now the ship’s journey is complete. It has gone on display inside a specially-created case in Mount Sinai’s third-floor TV room, on the same floor where Mr. Goldsmith had been a patient and devoted himself to his life’s ultimate project.
Many hands, including those of Volunteer Services, Art Therapy and others came together to help his vision come to life, says the plaque next to the display case.
“The ship represents determination and teamwork.”Plaque inscription
The model ship is a replica of the HMS Bounty, a Royal Navy ship that set sail from England in 1787 under Captain William Bligh (it became famous for an onboard mutiny two years later). Mr. Goldsmith told staff that working on it was a coping mechanism that kept him and his mind busy as he confronted the terminal stages of cancer. He had already built three model ships when he began the Bounty, describing it as “the last one of my life.”
To help complete his project, a workstation was set up inside his room and numerous people pulled together to support Mr. Goldsmith’s goal, including his family, volunteers, Mount Sinai’s medical team and specialists in recreation and art therapy.
“This was a legacy project for him,” says Katelyn Brinkman, Art Therapist at Mount Sinai, who participated in the undertaking. “It was his dream to leave it to the hospital.”
Jason Goldsmith, Mr. Goldsmith’s son, says the project gave his father purpose and made him feel like he was making a contribution to the world around him. His father was deeply appreciative of the care from staff and volunteers at Mount Sinai, he notes.
“They really tried to help him. It was touching for all of us,” Mr. Goldsmith adds.
“This is a way to say thanks for the amazing work that was done to make my father feel as comfortable and as human as possible.”Jason Goldsmith
Ms. Brinkman hopes the legacy gift will be a reminder of what can be accomplished in patients’ final days and months in Palliative Care. Even in life’s closing moments, it’s possible to have hopes and to create connections with other people, she says.
“It’s a symbol that the community came together at the end of this man’s life,” Ms. Brinkman says. In doing so, they helped a tiny ship become a grand vessel for someone’s dreams.
* The model ship was completed and provided with a showcase thanks to support from the Mount Sinai Hospital Auxiliary.