Love, faith, wires keep heartbeat

Virgil and Sharon Minks’ strong love for each other, as well as their faith, has kept them positive during the times Virgil has struggled with his health.

Milaca residents Virgil and Sharon Minks can’t say off the top of their heads just how many heart attacks Virgil has suffered during the years since his first one more than 20 years ago.

“It all starts to blend together after a while,” Virgil said.

His heart problems began nearly 30 years ago when, at just 47 years old, Virgil underwent his first bypass.

“I hadn’t had a heart attack yet, but I would have had I not had that,” he said.

The procedure seemed to have worked. Even after doctors urged him to seek early retirement, Virgil went on to perform his duties as a truck driver for five more years. Eight years later, however, he was back in the hospital for a second bypass.

“He had a major heart attack right before that,” his wife, Sharon, said.

While recovering from the surgery in the Intensive Care Unit at Fairview Hospital, a second heart attack struck.

“I almost passed away two, three times there at Princeton hospital,” Virgil said. “But they revived me.”

‘Lord let it start’

His third came between Christmas and New Year’s of 1993, followed by a series of two massive heart attacks near Labor Day, 1994.That year, Sharon almost lost him again.

“While he was straight-lining, I prayed, ‘Lord, let it start again,’” she said. “And suddenly it did.”

Virgil remembers little of his times in the hospital, but one vision he had while drifting in and out of consciousness remains clear.

“She just slowly disappeared from sight,” he said of his wife of more than 50 years. “I was thinking the next thing I would see is Jesus. But I started coming through and there was Sharon.”

And she would stay by his side the entire 13 days he spent in the hospital, receiving three to four stints in an effort to stem the heart attacks.

“I just really felt strongly that I didn’t want to leave Sharon,” he said. “We’ve been living together for a long time. I never wanted another girl since she came along.”

The strength of their bond, as well as their faith, have been the source of perseverance for the couple, and would prove to be invaluable for the trials to come.

For the full story, see the Thursday, Sept. 20 print edition of the Times.