Claire Ducote’s husband was in the final days of his fight against a brain tumor that would eventually claim his life on Oct. 31 when he began researching one last family trip.
He’d sent an email to Camille Collins at Belmont Plantation inquiring about a stay at the antebellum house.
When Collins returned the email, Claire asked her husband about it.
“He had no recollection about sending it,” Claire said. “He was already starting to lose his memory.”
The hospice organization in care of her husband’s final days has a program called My Wish that grants final wishes to terminally ill patients.
The family wanted to spend time in an antebellum house and it had to be pet-friendly for their 6-month-old puppy named Fleur-De-Lis.
Claire’s daughter, Celine, had begun researching old houses and was looking forward to the trip, but her father died shortly after.
The organization still made the trip possible and so the mother, daughter and dog made the drive from Cantonment, Florida, to Greenville.
The two stayed at Belmont from Nov. 19-22 and while in town, they visited the Jim Henson Delta Boyhood Exhibit in Leland, Winterville Mounds and took a trip over the Mississippi River Bridge.
“I’d never been to Arkansas,” Claire said. “We enjoyed the hospitality of Camille and Mary Jo (Coombs.)”
While it was Claire’s first trip to Arkansas, it was also her and her daughter’s first time in a house like Belmont.
“We enjoyed walking around and looking at every detail,” Claire said. “We stood in spots and just wondered who had been there 100 years ago.”
Collins said this was the first time Belmont hosted a Make-A-Wish type guest and was happy to do so.
“We were totally taken aback that they wanted to stay with us,” Camille said. “We’re so proud they were able to come.”