Special to 0-A News
from Walter Albritton
December 8, 1999

Enjoy the Love Lites Tree as you drive by the Medical Center

Tuesday night I helped turn the lights on a beautiful tree that sits just outside the front of East Alabama Medical Center in Opelika. I felt honored to participate in the ceremony that was attended by a small group of people representing the Pilot Clubs of Auburn, Opelika, and Lee County, the EAMC Foundation, and area Anchor Clubs.

The lovely tree is called the "Love Lites Tree." It is adorned by over 800 lights so it makes an eye-catching centerpiece for the hospital at night. The tree was prepared by King Braswell of Blooming Colors, a man who finds joy in creating beautiful things for people.

The purpose of the tree is not merely to add to the beauty of Christmas but to raise money for the work of the EAMC Foundation. A gift of $5 or more will place a light on the tree in honor or in memory of someone special to the donor. Each gift is tax-deductible and will help support the Foundation.

Each donor can designate the gift to be used to provide services for the diagnosis and treatment of Alzheimer's, Stroke Victims, Heart, Head Injuries, etc.

If you would like to add to the brightness of the tree, you can mail a gift of $5 or more to Love Lites Tree, Pilot Clubs, P.O. Box 688, Opelika, Alabama 36803-0688.

Members of the Pilots Clubs will see that acknowledgement cards are sent to those being honored and to the families of those being memorialized.

When I found that one of the lights had been placed on the tree in my honor by the Pilots Clubs, I decided to buy two lights for two special people in my life.

One was in honor of my wife, Dean, who gave birth to our first son, David, in that very hospital on April 18, 1953. That was a memorable day for a vicious tornado ripped through Lee County that Saturday while my wife was giving birth.

It was a bit unnerving for both of us for the hospital had to resort to emergency power when electric power was interrupted by the storm. The wind caused water to pour into the hospital hallways from the AC/heating vents.

In those unenlightened days fathers were not allowed in the delivery rooms, so it was all the more difficult to be separated from my wife at such a stressful time when all hell was breaking loose outside. But somehow we managed and David was born without my standing beside Dean encouraging her to breathe or push.

I never go inside the hospital without remembering that day so long ago, or the little blond, blue-eyed boy who would live only three years before succumbing to the dread killer of children, leukemia. We had no idea he would be with us for such a short while. That's why I encourage people to enjoy their loved ones now, today, for they could be taken away tomorrow.

The second light I placed on the tree was in honor of my little granddaughter, Sarah. She is two now and has a heart defect. The doctors want to wait another year or so before they perform surgery to correct the problem with Sarah's heart.

Sarah's light will remind me to give thanks that there are fine hospitals, like EAMC, where highly skilled doctors and nurses are ready to help little children obtain a new lease on life.

There is still time to add many other lights to the Love Lite Tree if you can spare a few bucks. It's a nice way to help others. And who knows, your gift might help provide services for a grandchild. Maybe mine. Maybe yours.

Think about it during the holidays as you drive past the sparkling Love Lite Tree at East Alabama Medical Center. Send a little gift and make the tree brighter.