Photos and article by Mary Alice Murphy

Each year Gila Regional Medical Center holds Light Up a Life, which is described as "a community celebration in memory of all those whose light continues to shine in our lives."

The 12th annual event was held on Thursday, Nov. 30, 2017. Christine McIntosh, who founded the event, served as master of ceremonies. GRMC Chaplain and Deacon Bill Holguin gave the invocation.

GRMC Chief Executive Officer Taffy Arias gave the welcome. "Thank you for all the lives and souls you have graced us with here." She said, with tears in her eyes that she has memories of her father, mother and grandfather. "I know you have the same memories."

Silver City Mayor Ken Ladner said he was honored to give the Words of Wisdom.

"All those whose photos hang here, and whose memories you share have had tremendous impacts on who we are today," Ladner said. "There is one person that impacted me the most."

He said he, as a child, lived in South Mississippi in a housing project as the oldest of 11 children. He said because of the time in history, he lived in the white housing project, while right across the street was the black housing project.

"My dad was addicted to alcohol and cigarettes," Ladner said. "He was physically abusive to our mother. As a result, I resolved at a very early age never to drink or smoke and never to raise a hand against a woman.

"My grandparents were a positive influence on me by the way they treated each other," he continued. "They were my shelter in a storm. My mother also suffered from asthma, but she never gave up. She made sure we got to school; she made sure we were dressed neatly; and she made sure we went to church, even when she was too ill to go."

He cautioned the audience not to think he was a totally good kid. "I was 11. Me and my friends decided to make bows and arrows. We used a hickory stick for the bow and the arrows had nails as the points. We went hunting on our neighbor's chickens. Pretty soon, a bunch of chickens were running around with arrows in them. Yes, we got caught. The policeman told Mom what I had done. I was prepared for her anger. But she disappeared. I went looking for her and found her in her room kneeling down, crying and petitioning God to raise her son to be a good person."

He said from the age of 13 years on, he worked at the school every afternoon. "All my brothers and sisters continued in my footsteps. We owe all our positive selves to Mom. Mom is a shining start for me. God Bless my Mom."

McIntosh read a poem, Heritage. Two lines include: "They are not dead, they still live in our hearts"; and "They are not apart from us, but a part of us."

As everyone's candles were lit, McIntosh said: "You are holding the light of shared love. Know that support is available to all of you."

Printed on the program is a poem: "We Remember Them" from the Jewish Book of Prayer.

McIntosh also said that if anyone wanted to bring in a photo to be posted on the display, which will be lit through the month of December, they could bring it to the hospital, and it would be added to the display. JoAnn Holguin, Arias' administrative assistant, will receive them and see they get posted.

Live from Silver City

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