Sixteen years ago when I was in RI visiting family I ended up as an extra pair of hands on a Jimmy Fund hospital visit. The fund was set up in 1948 and adopted as an official charity by the Boston Red Sox in 1953 (read more here). It is the longest and strongest connection between a sports team and charity in the US. I went with some ballplayers to a hospital and held baseballs and hats for them to sign as they wandered room to room on a floor of sick and injured children. I remember clearly one little boy who had been hit by a car - his face was a mass of scrapes and stitches - and also one child in the ICU who had no hair and seemed barely alive - breathing but also somehow disappearing.
There were many other children I'm sure but those two stood out - the only reason I can recall is for their families. In both cases the player I was with was a particular favorite of theirs and they were thrilled to death to see him. He chatted with them, small talk about the team, asked about the children, made it clear that he was going to visit with them as long as they liked. I don't remember his name at all now but I was so impressed with this generous donation of his time, and with how much it meant for those few minutes for people to talk baseball inside of medicine.
Flash forward to two and half years ago when it was my family sitting in a hospital room at Children's Hospital in Seattle. My son was transferred there from our local hospital by ambulance the Thursday before, nearly in a coma and newly diagnosed with Type I Diabetes. The head of the Endocrinology Dept met us in the ER, gave us a three ring binder and told us "Your life ended when you came in here. Your new life begins now. You start reading." (Very German and very tough.) We were in the ER for ten hours because there was no room in ICU and my son needed to be checked constantly to prevent falling into a coma. We moved upstairs only after a nurse was brought in who's sole charge was to watch my son all night. The doctor had told us that we would not believe the change in our son in 24 hours - that the insulin/glucose IVs would start to bring him back overnight. We didn't believe him but he was right and on Sunday, Easter Sunday, we were ready to go home. But first, there was an egg hunt in the playroom and there were volunteers for every single child on the floor - every single child. They had a 1-1 ratio to make sure that every child that was conscious, whether attached to IVs, machines or bed ridden, was brought to that room to take part in the fun. My son was pale and weak but walking and although I didn't want to bother, we went (my mother said we should and she was right - he loved it). What I learned that day was how it felt to be on the receiving end of charitable goodness - to be the one who was desperate for something other than medicine; who was so grateful for moments of normal in the midst of painful chaos.
Children's Hospital saved my son's life, but I will never forget the kindness of so many strangers who simply gave their time to those who were hurting. They were all amazing.
When Jules put out the call for hosting Robert's Snow snowflakes, I was sent back to that hospital visit in 1991 for the Jimmy Fund because it is partnered with Dana Farber Institute, just as the Robert's Snow project is. This was a no-brainer project for me - I'm a cancer survivor, married to a cancer survivor and the child of a cancer victim. Every three months when we go to Children's for my son's check-ups my husband and I are reminded how lucky we are (it is so hard to write that - we are lucky) to be living with a disease that is treatable. Our son may be dependent on insulin for the rest of his life but there was no chemo, no radiation, no fear of it coming back some other day, some other place.
I really hate cancer.
I think of the artists who have devoted their time and skill and immense creativity as more human links in that chain that stretches from the Red Sox to the teenagers who decorated a t-shirt with my son that weekend at Children's (we still have it hanging on the wall) to other hospitals and clinics and fundraisers across the country. They are very kind and I, along with so many others, am very grateful.
For my post I selected Carin Berger, who unfortunately is pretty much impossible to track down! I was familiar with her work though, first reviewing her delightful poetry collection Not So True Stories & Unreasonable Rhymes back in 2005 and later her ingeniously designed All Mixed Up in 2006. (This small book is printed almost as a board book and it is split in three so you can mix and match Berger's designs on one side while also mixing words on the other - a lot of fun.) What strikes me about her work is the notion of whimsy that she seems to capture in each person she collages - they just look like they belong in a Rankin and Bass movie and never fail to make me smile. Berger is a happy artist, if that makes any sense, and I am quite pleased to share her work at my site today.
You can get the full list of daily Robert's Snow posts at the Seven Imps and also bask in the glow of Jules's amazing organizational powers by checking out the ever updating master list of posts. This is a great project and for planning it and pulling it all together, she deserves an enormous amount of credit. Now go pick out a snowflake and get ready to bid next month. Go change the world, just like all of these artists and the researchers at Dana Farber need your help to do.
Oh - and GO RED SOX!!!!!