December 22, 2017

Readers share their favorite Christmas memories

Unexpected challenge leads daughter to follow mother’s example of unconditional love

Patricia Cooley

The year was 1960, and I was 6 years old. The Christmas catalog had arrived at our home, and our parents told each of us to pick one item. That item would be our special Christmas present. After much searching, I found the perfect doll. It talked and walked. It was absolutely beautiful to me.

On Christmas Day, I found that Santa Claus had indeed brought me that beautiful, blue-eyed, blond‑haired doll. I played with her all day long.

At bedtime, my mother came to tuck us in. She took my doll away, explaining that if she fell out of bed she could break. After mom left the room, I snuck out of bed and went to get my beloved doll to sleep with. I was absolutely sure that if I held her tight enough I would keep her safe.

When I woke up the next morning, I found my beautiful doll lying on the floor. I picked her up and found that she could no longer talk or walk. I burst into tears and cried my eyes out for what seemed like forever.

My mom came in, picked me and my doll up, wiped the tears away, gave me a kiss and hug and told me that if something happened to me and I could no longer walk or talk, she would still love me.

Years passed quickly and I grew up, fell in love, and married my high school sweetheart. We had two beautiful girls and on June 24, 1979,

we had our first son. He was a handsome, blond‑haired, blue‑eyed boy. The nurses couldn’t get over how good‑natured and quiet he was.

Months later, we realized that he wasn’t developing like our girls did. We were sent to Children’s Hospital, where the chief of staff told us to put our son in an institution. My husband stood up, looked that doctor straight in the eyes and told him “No! We are going to keep him and love him.”

The doctor told us, “Fine, but your son will never walk or talk or be able to take care of himself.” We didn’t care. He was our son, and we would indeed love him no matter what. And we still do to this day.

If I close my eyes and think back to that day so very long ago when I was 6,

I can still hear my mom’s words, “I would love you even if you couldn’t walk or talk.”

(Patricia Cooley is a member of St. Michael Parish in Brookville.)

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