There are some people that touch your life in a way you'll never forget. Often, it's a parent, grandparent or other close, long-term figure. Sometimes, though, it only takes a short period of time to make a life-long impression.
Gary Bentley had anything but a charmed childhood.
Bentley's life started off rough with many health issues, including a congenital kidney defect and holes in his heart. His family life left much to be desired, too; by the time he was in double digits, he and his six siblings had already been placed in foster care due to the abuse dished out by their alcoholic father.
Things didn't get better immediately. In 1973, he had to have open-heart surgery to repair a hole in his left ventricle, resulting in a lengthy hospital stay.
Without parents or any other visitors, he was incredibly lonely. There was one bright spot, though, a nurse he knew only as Kathy. "She was so sweet to me at a time in my life when I really needed someone to show me that there were good people out there that cared and wanted to help," Bentley explained.
Unfortunately, Kathy was moved to another floor, and, despite his tears, Bentley wasn't allowed to contact her. Eventually, he was released from the hospital and went back to his foster home.
Years passed and he moved from home to home, but he always remembered Kathy with incredible fondness. He even managed to hold onto a picture of the two of them though three foster homes and even a house fire.
Four decades later, while going through old pictures with his wife Gwen, he came across the picture. When she saw how much of an effect the woman had on her husband, Gwen urged him to try to find Kathy.
Harnessing the power of the Internet and social media, the Bentley shared the story and the single picture anywhere they could, in the hopes that someone would recognize this special nurse. Luckily, Kathy's college roommate recognized the old photo and alerted her, and her daughters helped her get in touch.
After 40 years, Gary Bentley, with a bouquet of flowers and the famed photo in hand, was reunited with Kathy Henricks.
Hendricks, who is still a nurse in Alabama, said she had no clue that Gary's search had garnered so much attention. She also had no idea the impact she had made on her young patient all those years ago or his attempts to get to her floor after her transfer. At least she knows now.