Ari and his wife Traci
In 1987, Ari Golden joined the United States Army and was stationed in Germany. Ari received numerous awards and decorations throughout an impressive 28-year career serving his country as a member of the Army National Guard. Ari volunteered at the Clinton Area Fire and Rescue for twelve years, working his way through the ranks to captain. Traci Golden, Ari’s wife, described him a hard worker saying, “Ari never did a job half-way, he always gave 110% to make sure that it was done right and always complete.”
Ari met his wife Traci in his hometown of Bay City, Michigan in March of 1998, marrying just a year later. Ari and Traci lived in Laingsburg, Michigan and raised three children together; Neve, Ian and Evan. Ari and his family spent many weekends traveling up north to Gladwin, Michigan, enjoying outdoor activities as a family including hunting, fishing and biking.
In 2011 after returning from a tour in Iraq, Ari was diagnosed with a rare blood disorder called Waldenstrom macroglobulinemia (WM), a form of Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma which was treatable, but unfortunately not curable. Ari underwent six months of chemotherapy treatments and two additional years of maintenance treatment, after which he was officially in remission and resigned from the fire station to spend time with his family.
But in early 2015, Ari again began to experience symptoms. “I remember noticing that Ari was acting a little out of sorts, and after coming home on the fourth of July, he said he needed to go straight to the hospital.” recalls his wife, Traci. Physicians spent months trying to figure out a diagnosis, eventually determining that his cells were attacking his cerebellum and sadly, there was no cure. Slowly his body began shutting down, affecting his fine motor skills and later his ability to swallow, but Ari never stopped fighting. An autopsy later confirmed that Ari had rare Autoimmune Encephalitis.
Ari was transferred to Sparrow Hospice House on December 18 where the Golden family was embraced with open arms. The family arrived early to decorate his room with all the items Ari loved, including blankets, trinkets and photos from home, including some of his granddaughter, Kinzley. “The Sparrow staff went out of their way to make sure that Ari was as comfortable as possible and treated all of us with the utmost dignity and respect” said Traci. He fought for two weeks before passing on December 31, surrounded by his loving family. Traci reflected on this difficult time: “Our hearts were shattered and forever changed that day, but Ari will live in our hearts forever. Even as a Sparrow Caregiver I never imagined going through this but I felt comfort knowing he was close to home. His amazing physicians, nurses, aids, social workers and volunteers took exceptional care of Ari around the clock."
Traci Golden is now a proud member of the Hike/Bike for Hospice Committee and in memory of her loving husband, hopes to help other families going through this incredibly difficult situation. “He is sadly missed but will never be forgotten.”
Sparrow Hospice House includes 21 private rooms featuring a chapel, rooftop garden, living room, fully functional kitchen, a children’s playroom and whirlpool bathtub.