Gary Coker

I sat at the kitchen table aware something was happening to my body. June, my wife, became equally aware that something out of the ordinary was happening. My speech had become disjointed and I was unable to talk coherently about the events surrounding me. June immediately noticed something was not right and got me in the car and rushed me to the hospital emergency room whereupon the attending ER physician noticed indications of a stroke and immediately began to administer a “clot-busting” medication, intravenously, designed to dissolve blood clots.

With a great deal of urgency, a decision was made to take me immediately to Nashville and the NeuroCare Unit of Tri-Star Centennial Medical Center. The two hour trip by ambulance was surrounded by flashing lights and sirens as we made our way to the hospital’s emergency room. The room was filled with neurosurgeons and nurses as the team of physicians planned their strategies to address the medical emergency. in the corner of this room, filled with some of the most respected physicians imaginable stood a small girl with her back against the wall. “Mr. Gary, you are going to be okay….”I heard her whisper. I very distinctly remembered tears beginning to flow from my eyes.

In retrospect, I ask myself, “who was this young girl with the ‘olive’ skin tone and the peasant-like appearance. The overwhelming mystery was the fact she addressed me by my middle name ‘Gary’. My first name is Dan, and all the attending staff, as well as all medical records record me as ‘Dan’.

After days of intensive medical treatment, I have been diagnosed as having survived multiple strokes originating in the brain. Upon my dismissal, I asked the staff to locate Naia and let me meet her. Small of stature with a very meek appearance, Naia worked as part of the housekeeping staff. When I asked how she knew my name was ‘Gary’, her only response was, “I just knew”. Her closing comment was “Mr. Gary, I have been praying for you”.

There are moments in all of our lives when something happens to open our eyes or deepen our normal sense of perception, that, if we allow them, they will change our lives forever. Sometimes momentary experiences will carry us for years, if not for the rest of our lives. The Incarnate Lord is present in this world and wants us to meet with Him. The Christ is not in books or history. He is the living Lord, and we will meet Him on our travels often in the most unexpected of disguises.



Retired in 2008 after 40+ years in education/psychology as researcher, teacher, administrator and college professor.
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3 Responses to Reflections………………………………………………..Naia

  1. Joyce Ford says:

    Gary, praying for you and your medical team – and for June as the two of you walk this path together. God loves you and you are in his hands – he cares for you and will give you peace.
    Love and Hugs, Joyce

  2. Elsie says:

    This account meant so much to me in my stage of grief as Leon passed away two months ago. I had heard about your surgery and stroke and am so thankful you are recovering. You are a godsend to me in telling your story. I am also reading Proof of Heaven. Prayers for you and my kindest regards, Elsie

    • Elsie, thank you for sharing your thoughts after my recent blog. Like you, I am in a transitional stage of life….not sure of what lies ahead. I do know, however, we must embrace life and not become stagnant. I have a quote that I frequently read and apply in my life….”to reach a port…We must set sail…sometimes with the wind and sometimes against it, but we must not drift or lie at anchor..

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