Path to the Sky
On the afternoon of Friday, October 21, Rita and I stopped by to support the new Aktion Club of Aim Higher Elk Grove’s art auction. Among the pieces we purchased was one entitled Path to the Sky.
Earlier in the day, we had learned of the passing of young mother Sandra Baxter. Sandy and her family, guests at Kiwanis Family House for the past year, had been so inspiringly featured in the October issue of Kiwanis Magazine. We treasure the publication’s recent article and I hope you all had a chance to see it. Kiwanis members in 80 countries read about our great service to the families of the world.
Path to the Sky really resonated with me on this emotional day. As I write this, Kiwanis continues to support Sandy’s husband Anthony, five-year-old Mark, and three-year-old Karissa as they struggle through questions about their path forward. Sometime soon, we will share goodbye hugs and tears as they leave KFH.
Our followers and supporters know that we touch the lives of so many families in a year’s time. In a decade’s time. In three decades’ time. It is a rare but wonderful gift when a family comes back to visit with us years after surviving frightening medical traumas. We have such a wonderful gift with Jennifer and Erika.
In August 2011, Jennifer Deshais went to a prenatal doctor’s appointment in Redding. She knew her baby had medical problems, but she was in disbelief when they told her it was so severe she was going to be flown by airplane to UC Davis Medical Center. Like so many other guests of Kiwanis Family House, she didn’t have time to collect her belongings to bring with her.
Erika Zipora Hope Chilton was born at the medical center by Caesarean section on August 17. A sign by her bed called her Princess Zipora. Despite her angelic appearance, she was a very sick baby. She was fed her mother’s breast milk through a tube in her stomach, because her esophagus did not connect. She also had a heart defect known as cardiac tetralogy. Both problems required major surgeries. “When the surgeon came and talked to me, I just cried and cried,” Jennifer recalled.
When she was not sitting in the hospital neonatal intensive care unit holding Erika, Jennifer spent her time at Kiwanis Family House. She called KFH her home for much of 2011 and 2012 before taking her daughter home to Redding. As they always do when they return to UC Davis Medical Center, Erika and Jennifer stopped by to see us earlier this month.
Path to the Sky will hang prominently in the lobby at KFH as a tribute to all families who pass through our doors. For many of us, it will be a special reminder of Sandy, Anthony, Mark, and Karissa.