A Woolgoolga wish comes true as Elma Miller, 106, enjoys a ‘bucket list’ encounter with alpacas

Born in 1916, Elma Miller has been through a lot, from the Spanish flu to COVID-19, countless wars, four kings and a queen, and the advent of modern computers and mobile phones.

But despite being an avid knitter all her life, the 106-year-old has never met an alpaca until recently.

“She has always been fascinated with aspects of wool and decided she had never seen one before and wanted to know all about it,” said granddaughter Kerry Miller.

Always eager to make wishes come true, Kerry traveled from Victoria to work with family and Elma’s local community in Woolgoolga, New South Wales, to check the item off her bucket list.

Elma Miller smiles face to face with an alpaca holding a bucket of food
Elma Miller was thrilled to meet two local alpacas.(ABC Coffs Coast: Indiana Hansen)

‘Kissed by an alpaca’

Elma’s reaction was both shocked and happy.

“I love them. I would like to take one home, but we are not allowed to have any animals [in the nursing home],” she said.

“They are such friendly creatures.”

She said at “106 and three quarters”, being kissed by an alpaca was “a strange thing”.

“I’ve never been kissed by an alpaca,” Elma said.

Kerry said her grandmother’s response made the operation to find an alpaca all the more rewarding.

“On 106, who can deny a wish? I just tried to make it happen.”

Lady holds two alpacas on a leash.
Alpacas Millie and Joc were gentle when they met Elma Miller.(ABC Coffs Coast: Indiana Hansen)

Kerry said she had no idea where to find an alpaca and made an appeal on social media.

“[These] beautiful ladies replied the [post],” she said.

“They have a two-month-old and a nine-month-old.”

‘Pure joy’

Family gathered from far and wide to grant Elma’s dying wish, including her great-granddaughter Darcy Heffernan, who described it as “sheer happiness” to see the special request come true.

“I haven’t seen her in three years due to COVID and I moved up north [to Queensland] for the university,” she said.

“This is something she’s wanted to do for a long time.”

Elma Miller's family smiles for the camera as she feeds two alpacas from her wheelchair.
Family visits from Elma Miller from all over Australia to surprise her with two alpacas.(ABC Coffs Coast: Indiana Hansen)

‘I wanted to cry’

Kerry said she wanted to cry in response to Elma’s excitement when she got to pet an alpaca for the first time.

“It’s great…and the community here is wonderful to support it,” she said.

“Everything has come together really well.

“She’s not overwhelmed at all, as you can see, and it keeps her mind active.

“It’ll give her something to talk about for months now.”

Elma turns 107 in March and Kerry says she plans to turn 110.

“We haven’t seen the wishlist for that yet,” she said.

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