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Wednesday, September 28, 2016

The "A True Hero In Both Life And Death" Story

It was an ordinary day.  The call came mid-morning from Debbie who was my wife Carol's co-worker when they both worked at the Parish Resource Center (PRC) in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.  Both have left the center, but still remain good friends.  Debbie asked to speak to Carol and after I told her Carol wasn't home at the time, she left the message with me.  
The Rev. Gary Sickles
Gary, her husband, had died a few hours ago.  Gary and Debbie were both at one time United Church of Christ ministers and were co-ministers at several parishes during their ministry: St. Peters UCC, Pohickon, PA, St. John's UCC, Jonestown, PA and Trinity Salem Charge UCC, in State Line and Waynesboro, PA.  
Eventually Gary worked at Ephrata Manor, a retirement home, as a Chaplin while Debbie took the job at the PRC.  Then Gary had a bad automobile accident which changed his life forever.  His health became a big factor in his life and the fact that he was a Type 2 diabetic didn't help.  When I got to know Gary he was always the likable fellow with the big smile.  Enjoyed talking with him and found it hard to tell about Gary's disabilities due to his injuries.  Gary's health weakened more in the last couple of years and when his kidneys finally began to fail, he declined the needed dialysis needed to keep him alive.  It was at that time he decided to donate his body toward medical research.  The call this morning from Debbie was somewhat expected, but is always hard to respond to when it comes.  I told Debbie how sorry I was and she told me about Gary's last morning.  He had her help him leave his bed and get into his favorite lounge chair.  She heard him take a couple of deep breaths, as if he had exerted himself, and that was it. A call was made to the research center in Maryland and within a few hours his body was removed.  Gary knew it would happen some day and had prepared for it.  His soul has risen to be with his redeemer, but the vessel that held that soul will now help medical personnel better understand the body and perhaps lengthen the live of someone else in the future.  He is truly a hero to all those whose knew him and especially to those who will benefit from his selfless decision.  We all might take direction from this hero and consider the ultimate gift to humanity.  It is truly a heroes choice!  Thanks Gary, for your life and sacrifice!  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy. 

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