Keeping inside most of the time now has opened up new opportunities as long ago friends find time to reach out and make contact. Just this past week three have called ‘out of the blue’ to say hello and ask how are we doing during this strange time. One asked if I still had the photos he had sent 20 years ago when he and I fulfilled a dream of flying in an open cockpit, old fashioned bi-plane (he was the licensed pilot, I was the front cockpit passenger fulfilling a goal I had dreamed up). I was so pleased to share that I did still have those photos of that memorable event – he even let me fly that plane at one point! – hanging here on my in-home office wall!

Then just yesterday I answered an unknown name/number calling to find a fellow heart transplant recipient calling (out of the blue) who had received his own heart transplant just two months after I had gotten mine here in Philadelphia at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, both by the same surgeon, Dr. Mike Acker, 26 (YES, TWENTY SIX!) years ago! I had never talked to him all those years and here he was, another outstanding survivor, reaching out and sharing our post-transplant life stories a quarter-century from that initial encounter!

It is a good time to count our blessings and reach out to others, especially family and friends, or neighbors who would love that touch of a friendly voice, or even from long lost strangers as I enjoyed even this week.

I can’t wait to see what this week brings. And not just wait for those calls, but with time on our hands, who can we reach out to with that gift of friendship to ‘make their days’? As for me, I just reached out to that beautiful nurse, Heather, from the heart transplant program here who befriended me way back in 1994 and with whom I can still connect with across the country now. I can still hear her words, “Mr. Gleason, I think we have a heart for you!” Wow, those still give me heartfelt emotions of gratitude even now, 26 years later.

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Here are two heart transplant friends, Johann and Sam, enjoying a 4th of July hometown parade several years ago – inspired by the story above, I will go and call both of them now!