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Christmas Memories of Two Daughters

December 19, 1991

When I read "My Son's Desire: I Want Home!" by Alice Kutzin (Dec. 12), an avalanche of memories hit me.

Two of my daughters, Diane and Laura, were born with Cockayne syndrome. They were physically handicapped and mentally retarded. They never learned to walk or to talk. Every Christmas I shopped for them in the baby departments at the stores. They never sucked their thumbs or twiddled with their hair while clutching the satin binding of a favorite blanket, but they both liked a small plush doll with a gentle face.

Although they were born nine years apart, they were like twins. Both girls remained tiny until the day they died. Neither ever wore anything larger than the toddler Size 4 outfits they were buried in, even though Diane died at the age of 19 and Laura at 14 1/2.

My youngest granddaughter, at 23 months, has already surpassed the physical and mental accomplishments of both girls, and, like the Kutzin family, we became inured to the stares and whispers of onlookers when out in public.

Christmas is not the same without the girls. I still "see" them at Christmas. I visit their graves at San Fernando Mission and take them flowers they can't see or smell, and I go home and cry with the last of the pink plush dolls I still have.

MARILYN N. HANKINS

Canoga Park

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