Her dying wish made us think.
What would I ask for?
Deborah Ann Monroe’s wish did something more, though.
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It made those who heard her story ponder death -- the end of their own days -- and it did so in a way that no doubt made them smile.
Her humble last request? Dinner at Olive Garden.
Last summer doctors told Monroe, who suffered from lung disease, that she had about six months to live.
As it turned out, she made it 13 more, to age 62.
Monroe died Aug. 3 at a nursing home in Eatonton.
She was living in Macon in July 2013 when her dying wish and its granting made the news.
“It wasn’t like she asked for a deep-sea fishing trip. ... Just a dinner out,” Jada Elliott, a hospice social worker who knew Monroe, said Monday. “I think people really like to hear that everyone doesn’t have this sense of huge entitlement.”
Elliott had helped arrange the Olive Garden outing after Monroe saw a TV commercial and wondered what the restaurant’s food tasted like.
“It looks soooo good,” Monroe had said.
Monroe grew up in a St. Louis housing project. Her father died when she was 4. She was abused by a relative and she later suffered from mental illness.
She once sold clothes for a living. Other times she worked as a hotel maid, a hairdresser, a cook at McDonald’s and a nurse. After moving to Georgia, she lived in Milledgeville, Eatonton and Macon, among other places.
In recent years, she fell ill with breathing problems and couldn’t care for herself.
Monroe was a mother of three, two daughters and a son, but last summer said, “I don’t see ’em.”
At the time, she was living in a south Macon care home, sharing a bedroom with other women and getting by on $110 a month in spending money.
Before the trip to Olive Garden, she hadn’t been out to eat in more than five years.
At the restaurant on her special night, chauffeured there in a white limo, she said, “I’m gonna remember this for the rest of my life. ... I wanna taste everything.”
Monroe removed her false teeth to make sure.
She ordered a margarita, stuffed mushrooms, spinach dip and a main course called Steak Gorgonzola-Alfredo, medium rare.
Afterward, word of her wish spread.
Someone who saw her story on a newspaper website in Phoenix commented, “Poor soul. Makes me realize how good I have it.”
A Boston radio station’s morning show mentioned Monroe and asked listeners, “If you had, say, one night left on this Earth, ... where would you go for dinner?”
Elliott, the social worker, said Monroe hung on to a copy of The Telegraph’s front-page write-up of her Olive Garden adventure.
“She had to show it to everybody. She’d say, ‘I want y’all to know, I’m just like a celebrity,’” Elliott said.
“That (dinner) gave her momentum. It was almost like somebody who’s on their deathbed being shown their brand-new grandbaby.”
Contact writer Joe Kovac Jr. at 744-4397.