Christmas 1975, Lake Tahoe, Tahoma, Calif. I had been in the hospital several weeks and wanted to go home to my husband and stepchildren and each day the doctor would say not yet.
Then two days before Christmas, the doctor said you can go home Christmas Eve. "If I let you go home earlier, you'll be out shopping and I want you in bed."
You should have seen the grin across my face. At 4 p.m., Christmas Eve, I got out. With a friend who had a great deal of patience, my empty wallet and a lot of plastic, I went shopping. After all, five kids need lots of Christmas.
I had invited the children's mother for Christmas and wanted everything special for her. Toy and grocery shopping we went. About 11 that night, we arrived at a very cold but white Christmas Eve.
My husband and Mary and the children all helped to put everything away. Don and Mary wrapped presents while I made the dressing for the turkey for Christmas and made pies and watched the children's faces. This was my first real Christmas with my stepchildren and their mother Mary. The warmth and aromas of the peck cedar walls of the lodge and our fireplace made everything beautiful.
Mary had allowed me to raise her children. I thought I'd been given a gift from God. These beautiful children were very special as was their mother. How lucky I was.
Many years have passed, and I still feel like I'd been given the greatest gift. The children have all grown up and have children of their own as well as grandchildren.
What a beautiful gift from their mother to me, even after so many years. To our children Mike, Jeanie, Pat and Kathy and my own daughter Lanee, I couldn't ask for a better life or Christmas.
Thank you, Mary, and most of all, thank you children for you're gifts of love. To their father Don, what a wonderful life.