Chapala resident Octavio Romero Alvalos, 35, the popular waiter at Mom’s Deli and Café, drew on an agonizing personal experience to create a loving and giving Christmas tradition.
At age 10, Romero was severely injured in a bicycle accident. Abdominal surgery kept him in Guadalajara’s Hospital Civil for six weeks, encompassing the entire Christmas season.
Parents of the sick and recovering children at the hospital were only allowed to be with their offspring for one or two hours each day. For hours Romero was alone with his pain and the other sick, frightened and lonely boys in the ward.
None of the children were anxious for Christmas to arrive; they knew that there would be no money for gifts. Their parents had missed weeks of work, waiting outside the hospital in the cold. They were determined to be on hand in case of a sudden change in the child’s condition and to be ready to dash inside.
“On Christmas Day a stranger walked into our room,” says Romero, taking up the story. “He walked up to my bed and handed me a toy and some candy. I don’t think I ever felt that happy before. I was so excited. It was just a small toy, but it was so important to me and the best thing that had happened in so long. I couldn’t wait for my mother to come to visit so I could show her what I had.
“While I waited for visiting time, I started thinking about when I grew up to be a man. I thought I was dreaming, that I would never be able to do it, but I wanted to be sure that every child in the hospital at Christmas had a toy to make they feel happy like I did.”
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