Flanders Column: A true Thanksgiving tale

Happy Thanksgiving to all my friends, family and neighbors. At this time of year most of us feel grateful and generous and we show that by giving to local charities, toy drives, food drives, etc. Some friends of mine have a very touching story about generosity and selflessness that I’d like to share with you.

Horace Barrow of Flanders was born with kidney problems. By the time he was 21 he needed a kidney transplant. He received his first from a donor who had passed away. Fast-forward 17 1/2 years and Horace needed another miracle. His kidney started failing and he needed to be on dialysis for two years. Then a beautiful young woman entered in his life and changed everything.

Cindy was a friend of the nurse who had treated Horace at the dialysis center. One night Cindy decided to join her friend and a few others for dinner, to which Horace was invited as the guest of the nurse. During the course of the evening Horace and Cindy spent time talking and getting to know one another. Horace, though thoroughly smitten, was a bit shy and hesitant so he didn’t ask for her number. They parted and went their separate ways. A few weeks later another friend of Horace’s, who did not know Cindy, invited Horace to a restaurant in Centereach. Imagine his surprise when he walked in and saw Cindy. Not wanting to miss another opportunity, he asked her for her number. Well, many dates (including dialysis dates) and conversations later and their love still grows strong. Unfortunately, Horace went back on the transplant list. Although you can survive with dialysis, transplant is the best treatment. While at an appointment with Horace’s doctor, Cindy asked if she could be tested, to which Horace replied, “No”! However, Cindy finally convinced him that she had to know if she could be a potential donor. Turns out she was! After many discussions with doctors, clergy, a therapist, family and each other, Cindy decided to donate one of her kidneys to Horace. In May 2009, they both were operated on at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital, where Cindy spent two days and Horace four. In October 2009 they were married.

Both Horace and Cindy made lifetime decisions in 2009. Cindy chose to give the gift of life to her fiancé and Horace chose to follow his heart and marry the love of his life. I’m very happy to report that both Horace and the marriage are going strong! I’ve seen happy marriages but I’ve never felt so much power and love from any two people. When I asked Cindy how she came to make such a selfless and scary decision, she said, “I didn’t extend Horace’s life, I extended both our lives … together.” God bless you two.

If you’re interested in learning more about donating a kidney or testing to see if you’re a potential match for someone who needs your help, visit

The annual Big Duck lighting is Wednesday, Nov. 30, at 7 p.m. This free event is sponsored by the Suffolk County Parks Department. A special guest usually shows up, so bring the kiddies.

That’s all for this week. I look forward to hearing from more of you next week. When you’re sitting down to dinner Thursday think about all you have to be grateful for. Yes, times are hard, money is an issue for most of us, our kids are driving us crazy, the car needs a tune-up and the holidays are knocking at the door, but we still have things to be thankful for. I’m thankful for my family, my friends and for each and every one of you who are reading this.

Have a wonderful day. Drive safe.

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