DES MOINES, Iowa -- When Jason Mason thinks back to the holidays, he remembers a lot of them being spent at Blank Children’s Hospital in Des Moines.
“We spent a lot of time in the hospital, birthdays, Christmases, whatever. We would celebrate in his room so I just remember coming here,” Mason said. “The streets are dead but we are driving to the hospital on a Christmas morning to hang out here and open up presents.”
Now, Mason is back at the very same hospital 20 years later.
“It’s funny how some of the smells and sights can be the same [as] 20 years ago. [It] just instantly brings back memories,” Mason said.
They bring back memories of his brother, Matthew.
“He had spinal cord cancer he was diagnosed when he was four years old and he passed when he was 12 years old,” Mason said.
Matthew lost his battle with cancer on November 30, 1998. Twenty Christmases later, his family is finding ways to keep his memory alive. “We wanted to do something specific for the organizations that were a big part of his life,” Mason said.
The Masons held a toy drive, raising almost $2,000, $1,600 dollars in gift cards and brought in over 15 totes of toys for children to use at Blank Children’s Hospital.
“We had old nurses, his wish granters from Make-A-Wish, and everyone come out and support us, so it was a really cool thing,” Mason said.
With their help they were able to donate some of the very same toys Matthew used back when he was in the hospital.
“He was a very mischievous child, so there were a lot of times in the room when the nurses would come in and he would shoot them with a Nerf gun, or something. He had a very lively spirit,” Mason said.
Now that rambunctious attitude can be embodied by children in the hospital today, getting to play with toys thanks to Matthew. That makes this holiday a little brighter for the Masons.
“I don’t think it ever gets easier. You just figure out how to deal with it better, so there’s time when it’s hard. When I got married, it was hard that he wasn’t standing up there with me, but then there’s a lot of fun times where we’re giving back to an organization and you just feel really good about what you’re doing. You almost feel like he’s there with you,” Mason said.