When Gary Bentley was a young child growing up in Alabama, life was difficult for him. He and his siblings lived under the shadow of a father who was both alcoholic and abusive. Although they escaped from his clutches eventually, the foster care system had its own trials for this large family.
Gary had an especially hard time of it, though, because he was in such frail health. Born with congenital defects in his kidneys and heart, he spent a lot of time in the hospital at the age of 10 to have major heart surgery. During that time, he was in deep distress, but one nurse gave him a brighter outlook.
Gary never forgot the special interest that Kathy took in him or his sadness when she was sent to work on another ward. Sadly, the hospital wouldn’t let him visit her, and he didn’t even know her last name. Still, that kind woman who gave him hope in 1975 always loomed large in his mind.
After he was released from the hospital, Gary continued to have a tumultuous childhood, including several different foster homes. At one point, he also lived through a fire. Not only did he survive, but a photo of him and Kathy did as well.
When he put the photo on social media recently, it didn’t take long to track down the nurse who had meant so much to him. Their emotional reunion after 40 years demonstrates the power of compassionate nurses to change lives.