Kirsch saw an opportunity to pursue her truck passion when she read a People magazine article about the Twilight Wish Foundation. She thought, "What the heck … I'll give it a try."
She called Cass Forkin, the nonprofit's founder, and submitted her application.
By the time it was granted, Kirsch's wish set several records at the foundation, including the longest time it took to grant a wish, the most expensive wish, and the one that required the most planning.
Kirsch is hopeful that the national and local publicity the trip generated will help the organization, which now has nine chapters nationwide, to expand. "I think we really got the country worked up about helping seniors. You got an hour here or there, just go visit a nursing home. You don't have to know anybody by name."
Most of the nearly 2,000 wishes the foundation has granted are modest. Many help meet an older person's basic needs for a quilt, dental work or a wheelchair. Others, like a golf cart for nuns who can no longer walk on the grounds of their retirement home, improve their quality of life. Some are onetime experiences, like tickets to a sporting event or a chance to go dancing.
No shrinking violet
At several of the stops along the more than 6,500-mile trip, their hosts didn't know what to expect, Kirsch said. "They couldn't believe that this 82-year-old lady could climb in and out of the cab of the truck without any help. Off to the side, I'd see they'd have a wheelchair or walker or walking stick."
But Kirsch is no little old lady. She works out four hours a day at the gym, from 5:30 to 9:30 a.m.
"She's in excellent physical condition," Wood said. Long-distance trucking is "not easy on your circulation. I used to jump rope while the truck was being loaded or unloaded."
Kirsch has long had an adventurous streak. When she was in her 60s, she took a six-week trip on her motorcycle. "I drove from Indiana to Rome, Ga., to pick up my mother, and we drove clear down to Key West and back," she said.
In her 70s, she decided to get a tattoo. "I got Speedy Gonzales, because I am," she said. "Aren't I?"
During the trip, Wood said, "Margarette was very upbeat, spending almost all of the time telling me these wonderful stories."