Dying mom gets her wish: To see son graduate from college

Dying mom gets her wish: To see son graduate from college »Play Video

VANCOUVER, Wash. -- A 22-year-old student will graduate twice from Portland Community College. 

Once, for his mother.  

And again, a month later, with his classmates in the college's official ceremony.

Jesse Rainey's mom, Brenda, is suffering from a rare form of arthritis that attacks her lungs.  

Over the past year, the disease progressively stole her breathing and her voice. 

She's in the intensive care unit at Peacehealth Hospital in Vancouver, surrounded by loving family and the hiss and hum of breathing machines.

Doctors told her husband and sons they expect the disease will soon steal her life.

Her family made sure it won't steal her dying wish: celebrating Jesse's college graduation.

Jesse, 22, is studying  multimedia production at Portland Community College.

"We tried to figure out a live video feed to her hospital room," said Jesse. "They just don't think she could live that long."

Graduation is June 13th.

At least, that's when Jesse will officially graduate.

Portland Community College agreed to hold a special ceremony at Brenda Rainey's beside on Friday.

"The main reason we fought to have this ceremony for my mom to see was because the doctor said she probably won't live past the weekend," said Jesse.

Jesse and his two brothers made a video from their mother's hospital room in the intensive care unit as a PCC administrator performed the honors.

"By the power vested in me, by the State of Oregon, and the Governor, and the president of Portland Community College, I do hereby award you your associate's degree in multimedia," said the officiator of the ceremony.

"Before I hand it to you, I'd like you to turn your tassel."

Jesse was dressed in his cap and gown.

His mother, beaming as best she can, watched from her hospital bed.

"She had this very affectionate smile," said Jesse. "It meant so much to our family."