It had been a fabulous shopping day. Bargains had been good. Crisp, shiny shopping bags bloomed with bright, colorful gifts in the back seat of my car.
I checked off most of the names on my Christmas list. Amazingly, my gift budget still held a balance!
Just one more stop. I needed paper and ribbon for wrapping.
Then I saw Patty, my friend for many years. I asked if she were shopping for Christmas, too.
“Well, no. I’m on my way to the hospital, but I need a little something to decorate a gift.”
She explained about their son. “Bruce is getting an artificial respirator. He can’t breathe on his own anymore. We’ve known it was coming for some time.”
My smile faded. I knew their son, now grown, had struggled with muscular dystrophy, a genetic disorder, since early childhood.
I remember the day I met him. He was an elementary student walking with crutches -- a cheerful lad, friendly and never complaining.
Soon after I met him, he was confined to a wheelchair. Parents and friends carried him up stairs and down; ramps were not required by law as they are now.
Always the affliction and the wheelchair remained his necessary companions. Every moment of every day. Throughout high school and college, in work and marriage. He was courageous through it all, with a “can do” attitude.
His parents struggled with the realization that they can not make their son well, that he will probably not live as long as they. They hoped and prayed for a medical breakthrough. I know they would give anything for him to be well.
Their prayers are not answered in the way they would like. But their faith takes them through.
I thought about the respirator machine he was getting, just in time for Christmas. He would be dependent upon it around the clock.
It is both a blessing and a bane.
Tears blurred my vision as I said goodbye to Patty and strolled back to the car.
I unlocked the car door. Glancing at the glitzy packages in the back seat, I sensed a shallowness in my shopping spree.
My gifts were like tinsel!
Twenty years have passed. Once again I hear Christmas bells and it’s shopping season. I’m thinking, what kind of gifts will I give this year?
Note: Bruce went to be in the arms of Jesus in January of this year, at the age of 53. Learn more about muscular dystrophy at
Donations to the Muscular Dystrophy Association can be made at mda.org.