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It’s hard to convince people these days that one lonely person can budge the vast stone wheel of apathy. The truth, though, is the same as it ever was: One pair of willing hands might inspire thousands or millions to push. That’s the way the world is changed: hand by hand.. -David Koon
In the darkest hour of the AIDS epidemic, Ruth Coker Burks cared for hundreds of people whose families had abandoned them.
For about a decade, between 1984 and the mid-1990s and before better HIV drugs and more enlightened medical care for AIDS patients effectively rendered her obsolete, Burks cared for hundreds of dying people, many of them gay men who had been abandoned by their families. With no medical training, she took them to their appointments, picked up their medications, helped them fill out forms for assistance, and talked them through their despair. Sometimes she paid for their cremations. She buried over three dozen of them with her own two hands, after their families refused to claim their bodies. For many of those people, she is now the only person who knows the location of their graves.
I was able to see the worst of people, and privileged to see people at their best, caring for their partners and friends with selflessness, dignity and grace. I’m happy to see gay marriage legalized all over the country.
“I watched these men take care of their companions, and watch them die, I’ve seen them go in and hold them up in the shower. They would hold them while I washed them. They would carry them back to the bed. We would dry them off and put lotion on them. They did that until the very end, knowing that they were going to be that person before long. Now, you tell me that’s not love and devotion?”
-Ruth Coker Burks