Be nice as you never know what someone is going through in their life. I am sure you know about those close to you. What about your neighbor or the driver who cut you off at the intersection?
Let me tell you about one of my neighbors — Gary White. On the elevator in our building with a chance question to him, I experienced the most profound moment of my life.
Asked if he was retired, his answer was he stopped working in 1999 after his heart transplant. Stating matter-of-factly he had another man’s heart in his body. Well, I was overwhelmed that I actually was standing next to a miracle.
It seems heart disease is a family trait. His father was a noted businessman owner and operator of two coal mines in West Virginia. He was also a deputy sheriff at one time and had an opportunity to become an inspector of all mines out of Washington, D.C. However, he passed away at the age of 37 before he could start his new adventure.
With his father’s passing, Gary's mother was left with six children to raise and going through bankruptcy at the same time. As his mother was going through hard times, at the age of 8 he was sent to live with his uncle Ben — his father’s older brother. So Gary became a farmer for one year without any tears. He knew that he had to work for his upkeep.
His family moved to Pennsylvania and within a year, Gary joined them in Glenside. From there he moved to Warminster and graduated from William Tenant High School.
Gary and his wife Barbara were married for 52 years. They had no children but Barbara had three young children from a previous marriage. At the age of 20, Gary became their father image raising them as his own. Barbara died in 2015. Gary was her caregiver to the end.
Remember all this time he is walking around with “another man’s heart in his body.”
As far as his siblings, they all died with heart-related issues except his sister Billie Lee. She lives nearby in Warrington. Gary’s first heart attack was when he was 37 — the same age when his father died at 37.
Before the transplant, he worked in construction. For 27 years, he ran his own business — Gary’s Roofing.
Gary was admitted to Temple University Hospital and had to stay there for seven months because he was too sick to live on the outside. On the night of July 4, 1999, Gary was notified that they have a heart for him and then things start to move swiftly. He was given a heart that evening.
He did not go into detail but I am sure recovery was a long and grueling process. Gary gives praise to the glory of God. He believes that God was the one that directed him to the doctors and procedures that keep him alive.
About 2½ years ago, he and Joan Granacki White met online. As their friendship developed, they discovered much of their needs were the same so they decided to live together. Joan is widowed and came with her last name being White. They are not married as most think.
With everything going on in Gary’s life — he is into Bible study, plays the guitar and enjoys singing somewhere between a tenor and baritone range.
Miracles do happen and one lives in my building.