Wednesday, December 17, 2008

We've met some Christmas angels...

We received a phone call last night from a gentleman who we had never met who had heard about Michael's story and had something he wanted to share with Michael. His name is Fred and he and his wife, Marlene, came to our home tonight to meet our family. Fred comes from a family of 11 children and he had one brother, Patrick, who lost a 36 year fight with a brain tumor in February 2007. To honor his memory, Patrick's family decorates a tabletop Christmas tree with gift cards and money which they then give to someone whose story has touched their hearts. This year they chose our Michael to be the recipient of the "Patrick's 2nd Annual Giving Tree."

Along with the tree, they included a card with Patrick's story in it. With their permission I would like to share his story with you in their words:


"Patrick Norfolk was our brother, uncle and friend from Watertown, NY. He was stricken at the young age of 11, and again at the age of 20, with a cancerous brain tumor and lived until the age of 47 struggling with the ill effects from the disease. Due to complications following the removal of his first brain tumor, Pat was in a coma for seven weeks followed by several months of speech, physical and occupational therapy. That Christmas, Pat received a tree from the community filled with cards and dollar bills. Throughout the years, Pat never complained and always saw the good in people. His favorite times were those spent with family and his favorite Holiday was Christmas.

Patrick left us on February 17, 2007 but he still remains close to our hearts. We want to keep his memory alive through the Christmas Holidays and what better way to do so but to return the same kindness that was bestowed on him in 1971. Please accept this "Giving Tree" in memory of our brother and friend, Patrick Norfolk, and know that it is given with the same love and compassion he exhibited throughout his entire life."

I think this is a wonderful way to honor their brother's memory and we are honored they have shared Patrick's story with us. Fred (pictured above with Marlene and Michael) told Michael that he has a tractor and he invited Michael to stop by his home in the spring for a ride. So, Michael drew Fred a small picture of a tractor while he was here. He has also drawn a couple of pictures since they left for the "next time" Michael sees them. I think they have touched our little boy's heart (and ours).

Like kids all over the world, Michael is getting really excited about Christmas. Friday is the Christmas party in Michael's class and Sunday we are making our annual trip to Upper Canada Village for their Alight at Night Festival. Monday it is back to chemo but it has been nice having this break right before Christmas. Please keep Michael in your thoughts and prayers, JoAnne


Whittemores said...

That story gave me goose bumps. What amazing people! And they couldn't have picked a more deserving little boy to help honor their loved one. We wish you all a very Merry Christmas, and tell Michael we hope Santa spoils him rotten!
Jocelyn, Jason & Jack

Heather said...

Hi Joanne, my name is Heather and I'm actually one of Fred and Marlene's niece. I can say from the bottom of my heart this giving tree means the world to my family and me. Being able to carry on my uncle's journey is truly a blessing. My aunt e-mailed everyone your little boy's story and gave us this website a little over a month ago. Since then I have been reading Michael's journey and patiently waiting until our family x-mas last w-end so we could get the tree ready for Michael.
Like the card said it couldn't have gone to a more deserving little boy or family. I know that my Uncle would want it no other way. I wish you and your family a very Merry Christmas!!

PS - and Michael will have a field day out at their place, they have tons of things Michael could do, see and draw :) Take Care

Lisa said...

Oh my, what a memorable gift from a spectacular family! I hope you and all your family have a truly wonderous Christmas. You are always in my thoughts.

Mke G said...

I work with Fred's sister Sylvia in New Hartford, NY and am not one bit surprised by the gesture made by this "amazing" family. They loved their brother Pat very much and remembered the generosity of their community during his time of need. They also provided a similar surprise for another family in Frankfort, NY this year and intend to honor Pat's memory annually by helping out other families in a similar way. Best wishes Michael and his family during this holiday season and beyond.