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A gentle Christian man’s dying wish

As my baby brother, (whom I will call Gary), 51, sits in his tiny, cheap, dingy room up in the farthest, dampest, darkest northwesternmost tip of our entire country, Port Angeles, Wash., I feel like I’m the only person in his world who is heavy hearted about the way he’s going to die.

Gary was an outdoor person all his life. He worked construction and as a plumber in the winters so that he could spend his summers backpacking through Yosemite. Until he got sick, he has always skied, surfed, sailed, golfed and especially fished at every opportunity.

I can’t stand the thought of him dying in that room. Neither of us have the funds or the credit to be able to buy him a little trailer, and so I am asking for some kind soul to donate (or loan) a small camping trailer to him, and possibly even rent a space to him on their property up on the Ridge, where he wants to be.



He would be so happy if he could die by the Yuba River. And don’t we all want to be able to die in the way we choose to die? He says he will hop on a bus and only bring what he can fit in his knapsack.

If I don’t find a way for him, he will never be able to leave that room. I’m consumed with finding a way for him. I am determined that when the time comes for him to go to heaven, he will be up in the forest, fishing the river, or napping in the warm sun. Warm sun is something he hasn’t seen much of for years.




We are pretty much all the real family that both of us has left. Gary has always been a very private person and has lived a very difficult life which will be cut short. His infant daughter was born handicapped in 1993, just a few short weeks after our mother’s premature death at 59.

Our mother was much loved by so many people, and she was so looking forward to the birth of her second grandchild. But it was not to be. We feel that she was spared the great pain, as Gary’s daughter suffered a stroke at birth, and his baby girl died a few years later.

In the short time Gary was a father, he was a stellar dad. April’s mother had postpartum depression so bad that she was unable to take care of April. So, Gary kept watch all night, every night, because his daughter would have seizures, and he would have to bring her back from the brink constantly.

When April died, Gary never fully recovered. He became ill; he lived in his truck for several years, devastated from losing his infant daughter. He finally started to come out of his funk when he bought a little sailboat and learned how to sail and lived in the small boat in San Juan Islands of Northern Washington.

But his freedom has become his prison. He had to move out of his boat because he was too ill, and I know just how horrible it must be for him to be stuck in a room instead of being about to get out among the trees near a river.

If anyone who is reading this can help my brother in this way, please call me, Melody, at (530) 923-7103. I am working on what little family we have left, but they cannot really be counted on at all. I’m sure that God would greatly bless anyone who can fulfill my brother’s dying wish, a small camping trailer and a space to rent somewhere around the Yuba River. The Ridge would be perfect.

Melody Hartwell lives in Loma Rica.


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