Remembering Harry Golden: A Tribute Letter

Written by: Connie Fernandez, Community Inclusion Specialist, Skils’kin

I was Harry’s Community Inclusion Specialist for almost six years. Harry had an infectious smile and laugh and kind blue eyes, too. Harry loved to wear a baseball hat in the aummer and a knitted hat in the qinter. When Harry was feeling shy around others, he would try to hide under the hats. Harry used to be the plus one for Day Out for the Blind Dance with another Community Inclusion Client, this was when I first got Harry on my caseload. He loved the coffee and food and The Ladies would take him around the dance floor in his wheelchair. Harry would hide his face under his eyes, but The Ladies loved him and that made Harry smile.

Harry and I went to the Spokane Valley Senior Center on Friday mornings. Harry loved watching the guys play pool. He also loved the table tennis matches as well. Harry would wave his hand and say big “Hello” to everyone he saw. Harry had a love for buses and would get super excited when he would see a bus. He would always say the bus was “empty” even if it was full of children. Harry would ask what a person was doing all day and than answer them with the word “nothing”. Harry was in a wheelchair, but I was able to transfer him to and from the vehicle and Harry would always touch my face when I was putting the seat belt on him. When we went to Kendall Yards to Spark Community Center, Harry would wave his hand and say hello to all the ladies coming out of the yoga class on our way to Spark.

Harry went on a Durham Bus Ride three or four years back, it was a group tour with the Community Inclusion Team. Harry loved that bus ride! He laughed and pointed and smiled the whole time. Harry and I would laugh all the time wherever we went. Harry would say that people were “late” picking him up and also that he “stayed up till midnight” and that was why he was tired. He did not truly stay up that late, he liked to tell everyone that he did.

When Harry’s birthday came around on December 1st, we would go get a doughnut or cupcake during our outing. Harry loved this and of course I made sure the cupcake was cut up into little pieces and that he had non-caffeinated coffee too, warm, not hot. If I could not see Harry during the week of his Birthday (if he was out due to weather) I would drop by his residence and give him his sweets.

When we had to stay home and work remotely due to the coronavirus, I would call Harry every week. Staff said that Harry would get emotional when he heard my voice on the phone. Harry could be difficult to understand for most and had some words he would say all the time. I was able to understand his words and sentences after being with him for so many years. I was thankful to see Harry and hold his hand before he passed and say my goodbyes. I did not care that I was on vacation at the time and asked Merry Glen Staff to keep me posted. When I received the call from  Merry Glen to come see Harry as he was in Hospice care, I went immediately. The Staff at Merry Glen were so good to Harry and he had a good life there.

I am honored to have known Harry Golden and to be part of his life. I will never forget Harry. Harry made an enormous impact on my life and made me and everyone that knew him a better version of themselves, just through his kindness and big heart. Harry will always carry a special place in my heart.

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