March 6, 1998

There is one thing I can tell you: If you have children, enjoy them while they are young. Take them with you when you travel or go on vacations; go to ball games with them and movies and restaurants; enjoy them while they are still growing. Why? Because once your child gets out of high school and goes off to college, they never come back.

Dr. Mario Lopez told me one that it is not good to have one child, that you should have three or at least one more. When they get married and live in another city or community, you feel absolutely lost, just as if your world has turned around. You especially feel the loss when they usually come home every weekend and holidays for the fabulous meals you would cook for them and they call and say they are not coming home. You talk about disappointment and a lonely, desolate feeling. For this is the case.


I should like to share with you some of my thoughts about Christmas which I am writing on Dec. 21, 1997, but which you will be reading in March. To me, Christmas is one day of the year that is both sad and happy. It has too many memories. If I am alone and hear Christmas songs, especially Silent Night. I started to think back to the time I was a small boy about 5 years old. At that time, I remember I got my first toy which was a three-wheel bike with no pedals. I used to walk it around while I was seated on that bike and I thought that was the greatest gift that I ever received.

I can also remember Christmas Eve when I was about 10 years old. All of my family would be sitting around the fireplace looking at our Christmas tree, bright with lights and icicles, and presents for everybody under the tree. There were my two dogs, Badonni and Gileeda, sleeping peacefully by the fireplace. I can still see my Daddy and Mother, happy and smiling, and my three brothers and two sisters; all laughing, eating sweets and drinking eggnog. We were a happy family.

The years have gone by and now, much later in life, my wife and I are sitting together alone. The fireplace is lit. However, there is no Christmas tree, no Badonni and Gileeda, and no family. All of my family are deceased, except one brother, Joe. I have one son in New Orleans, who is with his own family for Christmas, and we will be there with him on Christmas Day. However, today, many years later, the Christmas season is sad, lonely and full of memories. But there is a bright side about Christmas; Jesus Christ our Savior was born on Christmas day.


As earlier mentioned, I have only one son, who is an only child and who is now a doctor in New Orleans. But I will never forget his childhood. My wife and I took him everywhere with us. We took him to restaurants, ball games and on vacations with us to foreign countries. At home at nights, I used to carry him on my shoulders everywhere. When it was time to go to bed, I used to throw him in bed and poke him with my finger in his stomach and pretend it was an airplane; and he would say: “Do it again, Daddy!” At Christmas time, my wife, Ruth, used to sing him to sleep with the son, “Santa Claus is Coming to Town.”

He grew up, finished medical school and was called into military service. Doctors were desperately needed to care for our military service people in Vietnam. We felt like the world had crashed when he was sent to Vietnam. We didn’t hear from him for four months. He left in October; Christmas was coming and this was the first time he had left home. We were devastated! The house was not decorated for Christmas but our home felt so empty. No mail, no phone calls, nothing!

I went to the post office and there was a package from Da Nang, Vietnam. I the package was a tape from our son. We played the tape in my son’s bedroom where he kept all his pictures and musical instruments. The tape began with the words, “Merry Christmas Mom and Dad. I love and miss you both so much. I wish that I was there with you instead of this God-forsaken country!” I am going to play on my ukulele the same song Mom used to sing to me at my bedside, “Santa Claus is Coming to Town.”

When he started singing I looked up at my wife, and we both had tears rolling down our cheeks. All she said aloud was, “Bobby, I love you so much. Please, God, bring him back alive!” She had in her hand two pictures of Bobby – one when he was 8 years old and the other with this white Marine uniform on. That tape, to me, was the best and saddest Christmas present I have ever received.

* The End *

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