I have a few friends and family who send newsletters every Christmas. I look forward to these missives with great joy. In the days before Facebook, it was the only way to stay abreast of the life events of distant friends. In these days of instant messaging and social media, I find them still a wonderful source of information and something more. A Christmas letter is a retelling of one year in the life of a family and it is amazing to see 365 days of important events unfold within a few sparse paragraphs. I love to see the march of time as told by a family matriarch or patriarch. I love to read the words of my late husband’s best friend from college, even if his news is sad to hear.
So, this year I decided to write a Christmas letter. Whether you read this on a page of paper or via backlit screen, know that I am happy to share our life with you this joyous season.
“How are the boys?” I hear this question wherever I go. I am glad to say, they are doing well.
Freddie Holliday III is 13 years old and he grew over the summer and is now almost as tall as his father. His voice changed and he quite likes his new adult voice. He is now in 7th Grade at
Isaac Holliday is a five-year-old in kindergarten at Murch Elementary in
. He is a joyous child and recently had a great deal of fun playing the donkey in the Christmas pageant. He has been struggling with learning to read. We have been very blessed to have my boyfriend-Ben Merrion tutor Isaac as Ben works in the adult literacy department at MLK, Jr. Library and is a wonderful teacher. Washington DC
Speaking of Ben, we have been dating for over a year and this summer Ben made his first trip to
to visit my family. He was such an amazing help in guiding the children through the airport during the trip. I also got to meet Ben’s Mother and sister this fall and we had a grand time. Oklahoma
We also have been blessed to meet the amazing Kait B. Roe. She is patient advocate too. She has recently moved to DC and has agreed to help with night-sitting when I am out of town speaking. We are overjoyed to have her as part of our life.
I am so glad Kait is here to help because I travel a lot to speak and paint about the patient view. I owe a great deal of thanks to everyone who helped out in 2011 while I was gone. So thank you to Ben, Kait, Joan Holliday, Courtney Mazza, Megan Michell, Eleanor Franc, Emily Stewart, Liam Kemp, Pete Wright, Cindy Throop, Shoshannah Kantor, Nora Reno, Miriam Cutelis and Robin McGrew.
This was the year I traveled nationally to speak about our family medical story and the tragedy of Fred’s medical care. I delivered over 20 speeches this year visiting
Florida, Oklahoma, Illinois, Missouri, Maryland, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, California, Oregon, Texas and Puerto Rico. Most of the venues that ask me to speak also allowed me to paint onsite. It was amazing to set up in the back of grand ballrooms and paint the words spoken at these august events filtering the images through the patient view. Most venues asked me to deliver a second speech at the conclusion of the conferences explaining the paintings created over the days of the conference.
In June of this year Charles Denham, MD offered me a one year fellowship with TMIT (Texas Medical Institute of Technology). As part of the process of being a fellow, he asked me what TMIT could do to advance patient advocacy. I mentioned that conference attendees wrote to me after my speeches telling me how much the patient story was affecting their lives and profession. They were asking for other speakers like me. While within patient communities people who wished to speak often had no way of becoming connected to facilities that needed patient speakers. So when Chuck asked me his question, I responded that we needed a patient speaker’s bureau. For the last six months Chuck and the great team at TMIT have been doing exactly that.
We now have a site called SpeakerLink.org and over sixty speakers have completed profiles and many providers have logged on to find likely speakers. Thank God that Chuck Denham and the TMIT team met me a little over a year ago. SpeakerLink.org is such a blessing!
Another amazing creation in 2011 was The Walking Gallery. In April, I attended the opening of a new Kaiser Permanente facility in DC called the KP Center for Total Health. It was a lovely place: a medical facility lit like a gallery. I immediately wanted to have a gallery show in the space. But we would not pound a single nail. All the art would be worn on the backs of business suit jackets and lab coats. Ted Eytan, MD with KP thought it was a great idea and the KP team thought the proposal over and by the end of the month we had approval. At the end of April, I and five other artists began to paint. On the night of June 7th 54 people walked with fine art paintings depicting patient stories on their backs. It was an amazing and sacred experience.
At this point there are 107 jackets in the Walking Gallery and the movement grows larger each day you can view the entire gallery at Welcome to The Walking Gallery - Regina Holliday's Medical ... Those that walk in their jackets have attended events and medical conferences throughout the
So that was this year. We are well, happy and so very blessed. And I hope 2012 is another wonderful year filled with advocacy and loving friends. God bless you as you each walk on your own path and I hope to see you along the way.
, Freddie and Isaac. Regina