The Best Medicine
“A godsend and a blessing.”
That’s what Jeff Jones said when asked about the impact of Hackerman-Patz House volunteer Frada Wall on his son, Cameron, now 11.
The Hackerman-Patz House Patient and Family Pavilion provides short- and long-term housing options for patients and caregivers who live out of town and are receiving treatment at Sinai Hospital.
Ms. Wall, 69, a retired social security administrator and Chizuk Amuno congregant who volunteers with children at Hackerman-Patz House, met the Jones family and then 7-year-old Cameron about four years ago. The Joneses were living at the House while Cameron underwent limb lengthening surgery and rehabilitation at Sinai Hospital.
Cameron suffers from fibular hemomilia, a rare birth defect in which part or all of the fibula bone is missing, resulting in leg-length discrepancy and, in some cases, foot deformities and knee ligament abnormalities. He has been undergoing surgeries to reconstruct his leg, foot and knee since the age of 16 months.
One day, when Ms. Wall visited Hackerman-Patz House bringing entertainment and refreshments, she and Cameron were paired as partners for a game of charades.
“Whenever we made a point, Cameron would jump on my lap and kiss me,” recalled Ms. Wall.
“After charades, Cameron couldn’t stop talking about how much fun he had with Frada,” said Jones. “I believe you get love and companionship from all places, not only from your immediate family, so we felt really good about Frada.”
Ms. Wall also felt the connection.
“It was a few days before Christmas and I thought, ‘I wonder if they [the Joneses] would like to go out to dinner on Christmas Eve,” said Ms. Wall. “‘They probably don’t have plans.”
They happily agreed. On Christmas Eve, Ms. Wall came to the House to pick up Cameron, his father, his mother, Susan, and his sister, Cassidy.
“When they came outside to my car, Cameron started walking around to the driver’s side,” said Ms. Wall. “I asked, ‘Cameron, why aren’t you getting in the car?’ He said, ‘Not until I kiss you.’”
For the next almost two months of the family’s stay at Hackerman-Patz House, Ms. Wall visited Cameron frequently. Thereafter, when the family returned to Baltimore for doctor’s appointments, they made sure to visit with Ms. Wall. Eventually, Cameron’s doctor left Sinai to work at a hospital in Florida. As a result, the Joneses no longer come to Baltimore. Yet, Ms. Wall and Cameron keep in touch.
“A few months ago I got a call from Jeff,” said Ms. Wall. “He said, ‘Frada, Cameron misses you so much. Won’t you come out to New Mexico to visit us for a week?’”
Ms. Wall accepted the invitation.
“We put her in an RV, and all of us toured our area. We went through Colorado, Arizona and Utah. We visited mining towns, Four Corners, Mesa Verde,” said Jones.
“Before I left to come back to Baltimore,” said Ms. Wall, “Cameron said, ‘Aunt Frada, will you go back into my room?’ His mother was playing a child’s piano, and Cameron was down on one knee with a black box in his hand. He asked me to marry him.”
“He even gave Frada a ring,” said Jones. “He adores her. Frada is so warm. She has a very gentle spirit. To us, she is a special gift. Cameron’s condition is very painful. God placed Frada in my son’s life and made his abject pain go away. He’s not in pain when she’s around.”