Hard Times – Part 4

This has been a short story based on a true incident that occurred to one of my older siblings and passed down from my mom. I hope you’ve enjoyed it as I wrap it up today.

When we left Ella, Walter and the children, they were in the doctor’s office where the doctor had removed the shards of glass from baby Charlie’s mouth. He is about to give them home care instructions. We’ll join them to see what he has to say.

Dr. Davis scrubbed his hands then pulled up a metal chair and sat across from Walter and Ella. “Even though I got all the glass I could see out of his mouth, we don’t know how much he might have swallowed.” He sighed. “And therein lies the problem.”

Ella leaned forward, cradling the now sleeping baby. “What can we do, doctor?”

“You may think this sounds crazy, but I want you to get some potatoes and boil them up. I’ll give you some cotton balls to take home with you. Tear off little pieces of the cotton and wrap the potato around it to make tiny balls, and make him swallow it. Do this several times a day. The cotton should grab any slivers of glass and he’ll pass them in his stool.”

The nurse had stood in the background, but moved forward. “Do you folks have potatoes?”

Walter shook his head. “But, I’ll get some.”

“If you don’t mind, I’d like to drop by your place later today to check on the baby,” Dr. Davis said.

“Thank you, sir,” Ella said quietly. “We’ll find a way to pay you.”

The doctor waved his hand. “Don’t worry about it. It’s Christmas time and the least I can do.”

With a box of cotton balls in hand, Walter, Ella, and the children left the doctor’s office.

Inside the ragged old car, Ella let fresh tears fall. “Oh, Walter, I am so sorry. I only let him out of my sight long enough to hang out the washin’. He just can’t die.”

Walter touched Ella’s arm. “Pull yourself together. We’ll do whatever we can. We need to buy a few potatoes.”

Ella nodded and held Charlie close to her heart. She was grateful that Walter didn’t seem mad at her for not watching the baby closer. She didn’t think she could carry any more guilt.

Over the next few hours, together, Walter and Ella managed to get several potato cotton balls down little Charlie’s throat along with a few sips of water.

True to his word, the good doctor stopped by to check on him, promising a return visit the next day.

Ella sat rocking Charlie as the sunlight faded into cold darkness. “Tomorrow’s Christmas Eve, Walter. And, all I want is for our baby to be okay. If we can have that, it’ll be enough.”

Walter nodded. “I know.” He ran a hand through his thin hair. “It don’t seem to matter what we do, we can’t never get a break.”

Jane and Celie had been quiet since they’d left the doctor’s office. Jane sat in the corner with her doll while Celie sucked her thumb.

“Mama,” Jane said. “I’m sorry. I shoulda watched Charlie better.”

“Come here,” Ella said. “Now you listen here, Jane Smith. You are just a little girl. I shoulda never put that responsibility on you. You didn’t do anything wrong.”

“But, Santa won’t think so. He knows and he won’t bring us nothin’.”

Ella met Walter’s eyes over the top of the little girl’s head. Sadness crushed her heart. It was true. They had nothing for the girls and no hope of getting anything. Sadness turned to anger and she resented the folks that seemed to have more than enough. They worked hard and didn’t waste anything and yet nothing changed.

Throughout the night and the next day, Ella and Walter continued to poke the potato cotton balls down Charlie’s throat. He’d remained lethargic, only opening his eyes now and then and letting out a whimper.

Early on Christmas morning a car rolled to stop outside their tiny house. When Walter opened the door, he gasped.

“Merry Christmas!” Dr. Davis’ nurse said as she pranced through the door. “I brought you folks some things.” She sat down a large bag that included a ham and fresh vegetables.

Ella moved toward her. “Oh, dear! You didn’t have to do that.”

“I know I didn’t. But I wanted to. I’ve got a few things here for your girls too, if it’s okay with you.”

Ella nodded

Jane and Celie rushed forward. The nurse passed brightly wrapped packages to them and they tore into them like ravenous animals.

Squeals of excitement filled the small space, as they unwrapped new dolls, a set of jacks and a ball and a coloring book along with crayons.

Ella fought against more tears. In the midst of the chaos, Dr. Davis arrived.

He strode to Charlie and picked him up. The baby opened his eyes and smiled at the good doctor. After completing an examination, he turned to Walter and Ella. “I do believe we have a Christmas miracle. I think your little Charlie is going to be just fine. You folks did a fine job of doctoring him.”

And, so Walter and Ella along with their three children had a Christmas to remember.

For once, they filled their bellies with as much food as they wanted, and the future held hope…hope for a brighter day…hope for prosperity and hope for happiness.



As I told you at the beginning, this was a true story passed down through the family. Above you can see Ella and Walter (my mom and dad, Marian and I.V. Smith).

I sincerely wish you and yours a wonderful Christmas! If you need a Christmas Miracle, I pray that you receive it. For, it is truly a magical time of year!

27 thoughts on “Hard Times – Part 4

  1. Thank you, Teagan. I did have a fantastic Christmas with all the kiddos. Their squeals when they open presents are something I never tire of hearing. I do believe Mom and Dad are proud of me. I wish I could ask them. We lost Dad in 1984 and Mom in 2004. I like to think they are watching me from beyond the veil. Hugs, sweet friend.


  2. Such an amazing story, Jan. All the more so because it’s true. I loved the addition of the photos too. So heartwarming! Thank you for sharing this. I wish you and your loved ones a magical and festive Christmas!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Love, love, love this story, Jan! What a beautiful and satisfying ending. I’m so happy for Ella, Walter, Jane, Celie, and Charlie. You left me feeling warm and tingly all over. Thank you for sharing this lovely Christmas miracle. Wishing you and your family a wonderful holiday season. ā¤ xo

    Liked by 1 person

  4. What an amazing story you shared with us. I’ve never heard of potatoes and cotton balls for glass but so glad it all turned out well including food and toys, too. It was a miracle for sure! I hope this Christmas brings lots of miracles. Merry Christmas Jan

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think a whopping gift of Christmas miracles all around would be wonderful, Denise! Thank you so much for stopping by and for being on this crazy writing journey with me! Hugs and Merry Christmas!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. What a clever way to thwart the glass. I am gobsmacked! AND when the gifts of food and toys arrived, I lost it. Reminded me of the Christmas we would NOT have had if not for my father’s Union brothers… There was one hot dog, a bag of chips and a soda for each of us. And one age appropriate gift. God Bless us, everyone.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, Annette, thank you for sharing your story. Hard times make us stronger. I appreciate you SO much and am thankful to have you in my life! Hugs and Merry Christmas!


  6. Jan- Thank you for sharing such an amazing Christmas story and miracle. Your parents are beautuful just like you and Linda. Merry Christmas Jan, I love you and Iā€™m honored to have you & Linda in my life.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Linda- We lift each other. You have been so dear to me and you always keep me lifted up as well. God sent you to me. Love you always.

        Liked by 1 person

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