November 9, 2015

A Kind Heart in Danger

Del* always had a soft heart. He ran away and got married to an Alaskan Native woman at just 14 years old. For several years, he lived with her in Alaska, where she gave tours to visitors.

When the marriage didn’t work out, he came back to Washington State, and almost lost his life to an abusive woman.

“She went to prison for attempted murder,” said Del, showing a scar on his chest where she actually stabbed him with a butcher knife. “The police brought me here to Everett Gospel Mission when I was discharged from the hospital.” 

He had no idea that one day he would return to the Mission . . . In fact, he went on to work in the construction business and marry again. Then at the age of just 32, his nail gun had become suddenly heavy and he couldn’t catch his breath.

After a reluctant trip to the doctor, he learned he had a huge mass on top of his heart the size of a lemon or a baseball. They diagnosed him as terminally ill and warned him not to work.

“I’m left handed, so it’s like I’ve had a heart attack or stroke,” said Del, who also struggles with numbness due to nerve damage caused by his condition. “I can barely pick anything up.” 

The Unhappiest Anniversary

Being disabled at such a young age was hard on his marriage. Just short of their 10th anniversary, his wife kicked him out of the house.

“I was served with the divorce papers here at the Mission,” he said. “Two days later, she passed away from sleep apnea.”

Del has had to work through a lot of grief. But he has found a sense of purpose here at the Mission. In fact, he has become a resident “angel,” always doing nice things for people. He sorts clothing in the thrift store, and loves helping people look their best when they leave the Mission.

“My helping them I think is helping me,” he said. “I have that feeling that I was put here to help other people.”

Del appreciates every meal at the Mission, as he works to find housing he can afford on his small disability income. But last Thanksgiving he remembers more than any other. In his words:

“Thanksgiving felt like family. Volunteers came and helped, and they talked to everybody and really cared . . A meal means a lot in here, especially when people have nowhere to go or really nothing to eat.”

Del is proof, your gift of meals really do make a difference!