MURRAY — Harold Finn has been a driving force for numerous mission trips Murray First United Methodist Church has made over the years.
On Tuesday, his classmates of FUMC’s Outreach Sunday School group decided that it was time for this man of service to be on the receiving end. About to head to Nashville, Tennessee for a surgical procedure that is designed to help return Finn to being mobile after he has been relegated to a wheelchair the past 10 months because an infection in his hip.
As daughters Kari Dickinson and Kristi Flanagan were escorting Harold to an awaiting vehicle for the drive to Centennial Medical Center, there were about 10 of his classmates, to wish him well.
“This is too much,” Harold said, overcome by emotion at the sight of his friends, some carrying signs with supportive messages, others balloons. “I really appreciate it. It means so much.”
Harold was about to be wheeled down a wooden ramp that connected the front sidewalk to the house porch. His classmates had their fingerprints on that ramp, along with other shows of support and love that his wife, Carol, said have made this time a little less difficult.
“You have been a godsend, you really have,” Carol told the throng. “Words cannot express what you have meant to us with what you have done in the last year.”
The sendoff was spur of the moment. It was classmate Priscilla Schanbacher who hatched the idea, at 9 a.m. Tuesday, nearly five hours before Harold was to have left the house for Nashville.
“I felt that we needed to do something to let him know we were thinking about him and that we want the best for him and that we want this operation to go perfectly,” she said.
Today’s surgery will be complicated, said classmate Chuck Hulick.
“He has said this surgery is so complex that it would take the entire day. He is the only person on the schedule for surgery (today),” Hulick said.
“This all started because he had an infection (in the hip area) and they had to go and take out the hip and everything. He has not walked at all. In fact, he has not been able to put that foot (on the side where the hip is missing) on the ground at all. They have told him to not put weight on it whatsoever,” said classmate Jerry Gupton.
“So they had to make a piece (that will attach to his pelvis) and that’s been a long process. He’s told me that they’ve had to send it back two or three times and that the FDA had to approve this piece individually, so it’s quite a deal.”
Carol said she and her daughters did notice activity in front of the house as the time for Harold to be led to his car approached, but they were too busy concentrating on making sure he was set for the ride that they did not have time to determine exactly who the visitors were. She said realizing that it was the Outreach group sent a big charge of energy through the family.
“Just a little,” she said, obviously downplaying the effect. “It was so great of you guys to come and do this. You mean so much to him and us.”
Harold will stay at Centennial for at least three days following the surgery. Plans are for him to return to Murray to begin rehabilitation.
There is no time line on how soon he might be able to return to active duty with FUMC missions, but that subject was broached Tuesday. Gene Schanbacher, Priscilla’s husband, told Harold how he wishes this operation will lead to just that.
“Maybe I can do it again here soon,” Harold responded, with a smile.