Banjo tops many gifts to brighten holiday
Musician suffering from emphysema ‘overwhelmed’ by generous outpouring.
Patrick Wilson greeted his guests with offers of hot chocolate and Christmas cookies and candy. The tree donated by Evergreen Farms sat fully decorated with lights and ornaments in his front window.
When Hospice Austin, the agency that nominated 63year-old Wilson to Season for Caring, brought him a portable radio, his eyes twinkled and a bright smile spread across his face. “Oh boy, that was what I’m looking for,” he said. “This is perfect.”
That was the first gift Tuesday, an amazing day for Wilson. Wilson has emphysema, keeping him attached to an oxygen tank in his small apartment in South Austin. He is one of 12 families highlighted in this year’s Austin American-Statesman Season for Caring campaign, which will help hundreds of others through reader donations of money and in-kind goods and services.
Cirrus Logic, which makes audio chips that go in smart- phones, tablets, theater systems and media players, has a fondness for Austin musicians like Wilson. Employees there adopted Wilson for the holidays, and on Tuesday, they brought Wilson a memorable Christmas. First up, gift cards to H-E-B. Bill Schnell, the public relations manager of Cirrus Logic, explained that this was from the employees. “Thank each and every one of them for me,” Wilson said, with a big smile on his face while he shook his head in disbelief.
And then another gift: A $305 check from Season for Caring designated for Wilson’s needs. “Excuse me while I get overwhelmed here,” Wilson said.
Then Schnell and Steve Burke, a network administrator at Cirrus Logic, went out to their car to bring in more gifts. First, they brought Wilson a black instrument case. When Wilson opened it up to reveal a banjo, he could hardly believe it. “I’ve been wanting a banjo for 20 years or more,” he said. “I’m so happy. … Oh, goodness. Wow. I don’t know a thing about playing it, but I’ll learn before dark tonight. I’ll work it out.”
With that he picked up the banjo and started strumming it. Still shaking his head in disbelief, he said, “Y’all stay close, because I might fall out of this chair.”
“You’re fine,” Schnell reassured him.
But they had one more surprise for Wilson: a new computer. The two men helped him adjust his apartment so he could sit comfortably and see the monitor. Burke hooked up the computer and offered to show him how to use it.
More good things are happening for Wilson. He has reached out to both his children, whom he hasn’t seen for 33 years. Donations of money and airline miles will get them here for a visit, and two hotel rooms for two nights donated by Hotel San José will give them a place to stay.
Most of Wilson’s needs have been met, including a will, a prepaid cremation, dental care and eye care. He still could use gift cards to local restaurants for the children’s visits, help paying for Internet and living expenses.
Even with everything, the gift cards, the donation, the new computer, Wilson kept going back to the banjo and its beauty. “I’m speechless,” he said. “I don’t know what to say. Thank you so much.”
To find out more about Wilson or to fulfill one of his needs, contact Hospice Austin, 342-4726 or www.hospiceaustin.org.