Warner Robins mother devotes dying wish to her four children

WARNER ROBINS -- Tiffany Lawrence considers herself lucky. Her dream came true.

And for a while Friday afternoon, she didn’t have to worry about finances or her health and instead focused on her children having fun.

Lawrence said she was fine sitting and watching her children play games and bowl. She only cared about their happiness and didn’t know how much her own body would let her participate.

Lawrence has stage IV colon cancer, and her diagnosis gives her one month, maybe two, left to live.

“It tends to shut down,” the 34-year-old said.

But Lawrence was able to join in, knock down pins and catch a spare while her children buzzed with excitement around her.

Earlier in the day, Lawrence put on her wig and watched as her four children, ages 8, 11, 13 and 14, jumped up and down with excitement. This would be their first trip in a limousine.

Their destination was Rigby’s Entertainment Complex in Warner Robins for an action-packed day.

Once there, employees ushered Lawrence into a party room filled with family and friends and school supplies piled high atop tables.

“You’re a VIP,” Heather Merritt, a medical social worker at Optum Palliative & Hospice Care, said to Lawrence.

Lawrence said she wanted her children to have one last round of fun before Houston County schools start back Monday. And she wanted to make sure they were back-to-school ready, from their supplies to their wardrobes.

She couldn’t buy her kids the necessities on her low income, and due to treatments, she had to quit her job.

About a week ago, Merritt and Rebecca Harris, an account manager at the hospice facility, put in an emergency request to the Dream Foundation -- a California-based organization that grants wishes for adults -- on Lawrence’s behalf.

“A trip to the arcade for most children is a fun time,” Merritt said. “But this trip will be a lasting memory that they share with their mother.”

She said being Lawrence’s social worker and walking with her in her last days has been special.

“To see a dream come true is a gift,” Merritt said.

Terri Laney, who accompanied Lawrence to the entertainment center, said her best friend’s dream has also been a blessing.

She said when she heard about the details of Lawrence’s day with her children, she was surprised and in tears.

Lawrence said she is overwhelmed by all the help that has come her way, and she couldn’t be more grateful.

“I appreciate it because it didn’t have to be done,” she said. “I was one of the lucky ones, but a lot of people need this help.”

Every other few words Lawrence said was “thank you.”

Optum staff pooled school supplies together for Lawrence’s children, and Rigby’s donated their food and services; each child received an arcade card loaded with $10 and the choice of two additional activities.

Elite Charters Inc., a Macon limousine and transportation company, took care of the cost of the ride.

Also, the Dream Foundation gave Lawrence a T-shirt and cap with their logo as well as a gift card to buy her children clothes.

Usually, her children only get hand-me-downs, Harris said.

Of her well-behaved children, Lawrence said they were probably the most thankful for everything they had been given.

“I’m pretty sure (my children) are more grateful and appreciate this more than I do,” Lawrence said.

To contact writer Conner Wood, call 744-4489.