Christmas ornament hand-painted by 10-year-old Stacy in 1975.
As I was growing up, a tradition in our family was for my parents to give us ornaments each year from places they had traveled. My husband and I continued the tradition with our children … so we have a number of “special” ornaments that are placed on the tree year after year.
This year was no different. As I carefully unwrapped the tissue paper from around one particular ornament, memories flooded back as I saw the hand-painted ceramic decoration for the tree. It was a jack-in-the-box painted in 1975 by a 10-year-old boy named Stacy. I held the ornament in my hand and remembered back to the days when I worked at Children’s Hospital in Richmond.
Stacy touched my heart more than any other child I came in contact with because of his devilish sincerity. I loved that child. He was from southwestern Virginia, one of many children from a large, down-on-their-luck Appalachian family. As best I can remember, the accident that changed his life occurred when he was playing with his siblings and they tied him to a tree, piled leaves at the base of the tree, and set the leaves on fire. Stacy was horribly burned, so much so that much of both legs and part of one arm had to be amputated. He came to Children’s Hospital for rehabilitation.