They lost track years ago, the way that siblings in sprawling and distant families can. Mildred Watts, 74, wasn't even sure her sister, Patricia Geayson, 65, was still alive.
But last month, through a program called "Thrill of a Lifetime" Eskaton's wish-granting program for older adults living in its facilities the two sisters met once again.
Their reunion came as a shock to Watts, who thought that she and an 87-year-old brother who lives in Redding, Robert Perez, were the only two survivors of the 11 children in the family.
"I almost passed out," said Watts, a retired shipping clerk who has lived at Eskaton Roseville Manor for two years. "They opened the door to the dining room, and Patricia was standing there. I thought I'd seen a ghost.
"I've never been surprised in my life like this."
And she quickly received another surprise: The oldest brother in the family, Alphonse Perez, now 89, lives in Merced not far from Geayson. In an instant, not one but two of her siblings came back into her life her sister, in person; her brother, in a reunion yet to come.
"I couldn't believe it," Watts said.
Over the past three years, Eskaton has granted about 100 wishes for residents at its 30 communities, said spokesman Stuart Greenbaum. Some of the wishes take elaborate research and planning, like the reunion of Watts and her sister.
But other wishes are small and poignant. One care center resident simply wanted to receive a bouquet of flowers, Greenbaum said, because she had never before received one.
"The thing that's exciting about the program is that it keeps on giving," he said. "The staff and other residents are excited ahead of time. Then there's the actual thrill.
"And then the recipients can think about it for the rest of their life."
Watts and Geayson grew up in San Jose, where their father worked in a mattress company. To help make ends meet and raise the children, their mother picked walnuts and plums.
"That's how we were raised," said Watts. "We all worked in the fields growing up to help Mom provide a living. We had a rough life, but we made it. You do what you have to do to survive."
But the vast age differences between the children meant that some never really knew the others well. And after their mother died 21 years ago, Watts said, they lost touch. Life was hard for some of them.
"Everybody went their separate ways," she said. "We lost contact. You never know. You move here, you move there, and you lose contact.
"Patricia and I weren't that close earlier in life. And now I can't let her go."
Now the two reunited sisters are planning to celebrate Thanksgiving together in the Roseville home of Watts' daughter, Diane Swanson. They'll invite the brothers in Merced and Redding, as well.
After two decades' separation, the remaining family is back together.
"It's a serious plan," said Watts. "We're going to do it. I'll help with the expenses. My sister has no car, but we'll find a way."