"I've prepared my whole life for this moment..."

These powerful words were spoken by Saveria 'Sarah' Bonanno—an incredible woman, wife, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother and hospice patient at the Kavanagh House on 56th Street. Through her inspirational life experiences, she sees death and dying in a positive, beautiful light.

When told by medical professionals that her organs were shutting down, she confidently said, “I’m ready to meet Jesus. I have a lot of people waiting for me," leaving her family with great sadness and thoughts on how to ensure her last weeks were celebrated. Sarah lived a life of happiness surrounding herself with a close, loving family. With time and patience, all have learned to accept Sarah’s new motto, “no crying, no tears, no pain.” 


Sarah came to the United States at age 29 from Terravecchia, Italy. Her husband, who had already been in Des Moines for a year, awaited her. Sarah spent seven days on the Leonardo Di Vinci heading to New York—she didn't speak any English, but she was ready for adventures, life awaited her.

Sarah and her husband, Pasquale, had three daughters, losing one in womb and another at ten years of age. Her daughter Liliana and husband Eric live in West Des Moines giving Sarah three grandchildren and one great-granddaughter with whom she spent every Sunday evening with cooking many of her famous recipes.

Rules Sarah lived by: never miss a Sunday mass, never miss a Sunday meal with your family and get a great education and study!

Throughout the past year Sarah had been struggling medically. After being in great pain from a recent surgery Sarah was told she didn’t have much longer to live. With confidence and peace, Sarah told her family she wanted to “meet Jesus in peace,” instantly relieving the pain and suffering that had weighed heavily on her and her family for months. After death, Sarah knows she has many people waiting for her that she is excited to see—especially her father whom she has never met as he died before her birth. Sarah is grateful that she has had such a happy life and a beautiful one at that.

Referring to the Kavanagh House, Sarah said it is, “beautiful here..." Liliana, her husband and entire family are grateful for the Kavanagh House’s care saying, “we had time to celebrate her life being at Kavanagh. They honor patient’s dignity and respect until the last day."  Knowing their loved one is in the best care has brought not only Sarah great comfort, but the whole family. Accepting death is never easy, but thanks to support from the incredible Kavanagh House staff, Sarah and her family have found they have one last adventure together celebrating a life well lived, by a woman of great worth. 


Please consider making a gift to help us continue to ensure the most peaceful, compassionate end of life care—for both the patient and the family.

Do you have questions about hospice care? We would be happy to answer your questions. Call EveryStep Care & Support Services at (515) 333-5810 or fill out this quick form to have one of our experts contact you.