As you may know from my last blog, my Dad, known as Santa to our URM children, suffered a massive stroke and my wife and I drove back to Des Moines, Iowa to pick he and my mom up and drive them back to Pasadena to our home last weekend. It was a whirlwind, tough trip, but we all made it back safe and sound. The next day my Dad suffered some chest pain and was taken to Verdugo Hills Hospital by ambulance, where alert doctors discovered a need for a pacemaker. He is recovering well tonight after the doctors’ successfully hooked him up with a pacemaker, though he faces a challenging time of rehab ahead. We are retro-fitting our house to be as wheelchair accessible as we can possibly make it. I have already spoken of the grief that I have had not being able to speak to him on the phone as I drive to work in rush hour.
Another challenge that we have faced is… who will be Santa this year to the kids? I have often told little ones at the Mission that we are calling Santa, and I have dialed my Dad’s number. He has entertained the children with “Ho, Ho, Ho” and answered their questions and wishes for Christmas.
Last night my mom took a picture of two little boys that my Dad spoke often with last Christmas, Tyrell and Tyrese. They were standing with me in the picture. We added them to the 48 Get Well Cards that the little ones at Hope Gardens made for him. He wept.
My Dad may be the only one in the hospital with two walls covered with home made Get Well cards from previously homeless children full of Scripture verses about healing. My Dad knows he won’t be up to playing Santa this year, but his backup arrived in my office today in uniform!
3 Los Angeles Police Officers came in at 10 A.M. – some may have thought I was in trouble! However, they came to let me know that the Safer Cities Initiative’s 50 officers from the Central Division are going to purchase Christmas gifts for all of our nearly 50 children at Hope Gardens Family Center and show up on December 22nd in uniform to deliver them! Santa’s dressed in blue. When I let one of the officers, Sergeant Kevin Royce, know that my Dad, who is known to the children as Santa, is temporarily out of commission for receiving phone calls to Santa. He took up the challenge and gave me his cell phone number for the children to call any time they want to speak to Santa. Keep my Dad in your prayers. Keep our precious children at URM and Hope Gardens in your prayers this Holiday Season. Andy B.