A Defining Moment
Every year as Christmas approaches, I always intend to write this, and now that my 79th birthday is approaching---January 6, 2010---there is an urgency to get it done.
This story happened in Dallas, Texas at Gaston Hospital, a hospital for blood disorders in young children.
Our football coach at SMU felt that we could bring Christmas cheer with small toy footballs that the children would enjoy. I must admit, I was not, at the time, too happy that my buddy, Ed Quintana, and I were chosen to fulfill his wish.
As Ed and I approached the hospital with two large bags filled with small footballs, we were met at the door by a beautiful young blond nurse with a smile as big as all outdoors. Our interest in our assignment changed immediately from a chore to an opportunity to get a date with this beautiful creature.
As we walked down the hall, I looked to my left and there was a living doll about five or six years old with long blond hair and eyes as blue as the sky.
“Hi, what’s your name?”
“Mary,“ she said shyly.
“Well, Mary, what is Santa Claus going to bring you this Christmas?”
“I hope he will bring me Raggedy Ann and Andy dolls.”
“I just bet he will. I didn’t see a chimney, but the front door is large enough to get his reindeer and sleigh through.”
As we talked, Mary told me she would like to be a nurse or a teacher. I assured her she would be great at anything she wanted to do, and then told her I would check back to see if Santa had made his magic journey.
Well, like most young sophomores at SMU, our days and nights were filled with frat parties and constant fun. It was two weeks after Christmas that I happened to be in Sanger Harris, a large department store, and ended up in the basement where the sporting goods were located.
Right next to the sporting goods was the toy department; and in the toy department, on a top shelf there was a Raggedy Ann and Andy doll set. My sanity returned and I purchased both and headed for Gaston Hospital.
At the hospital, I started for Mary’s room. I was met by a new nurse who looked at me with an inquiring look. I said, I have both of these for Mary. She is in the third room to the left.
The nurse said, “Just a moment, please. I’ll be back shortly.”
When she returned, she had with her the first nurse I had met at the door when we first came to the hospital. I knew by looking at her that something was wrong.
I stammered, “These are the dolls for Mary; sorry I’m so late.”
“Yes, you are late,” she responded. “Mary died three days after Christmas.”
“Would you please give these dolls to another child?” and I made for the door.
I sat in my car for a long time. I kept seeing that beautiful little girl and asking God , “Why?” The only answer I could come up with was God needed a little angel and also a lesson to a rather spoiled young man.
From that moment on, I have tried to never make a promise I didn’t keep and to also make Christmas a daily occurrence in my life---not a day or a week---for love and caring warm the coldest heart. Yes, every Christmas I think of this defining moment. I’m glad it came in my youth for it changed my life.
- Tom Macon