Two Very Special Children
Taken from "Remembering Carobell Smiles and Tears"
by Elizabeth Bell Midgett, 1988 and 1996

All the Carobell children were precious to me - each with his own special manner.  I was very close to two of them primarily because I spent so much time with them.

Dorothea - a tiny little baby who came to us when she was only a few months old.  She had to be fed by an extremely small naso-gastric tube.  I took her to see Doc Martin, and urged him to teach me how to insert the tube.  What a good and patient teacher he was.  I learned and inserted that narrow tube six times a day so she could eat.  I was the only one who fed her for three months!  She survived some thirty bouts of pneumonia before she died.  What a beautiful fighter!  Her grandmother, who was hard of hearing telephoned often to see how her granddaughter was.  Everyone knew when I  was talking with her as I raised the volume of my voice.  Dorothea's grandmother was also called Big Mama by her family.  This child was the only little girl I knew who had two Big Mamas.
Shelton Emanuel - was born on February 18th, 1972.  A baby born on my birthday - he was bound to be very special for Carobell's Big Mama.  Emanuel was born with multiple congenital anomalies.  He was born at Duke Hospital and was given a short life expectancy.  That was before he came to Carobell.  He was so cuddly and sweet, and we loved him, even if he did have missing fingers and toes and a hernia of the brain.  He definitely was my kid - affectionately known as "Big Mama's black granbaby."  At the end of three months our baby boy was thriving.  Duke looked at his prognosis and wouldn't re-evaluate, so we went thru the March of Dimes and were referred to the Birth Defects Clinic at NC Memorial Hospital in Chapel Hill.  They documented many problems - prognosis poor but we insisted on a six months check-up.  Emanuel at six months was sitting up, rocking back and forth on all fours and just about up to normal development.  The Doctors were amazed - but still gave us little hope.  In August he was admitted to NC Memorial Hospital for surgery on his right hand to free two digits joined together.  By this time Emanuel was standing up in his crib, smiling and cooing.  We had surrounded his crib rails with 3 inches of foam rubber so he wouldn't fall and rupture the hernia on the back of his head.  He was so cute.  The hand surgery went well, and finally we convinced the neurosurgeons to operate on his head.  The Doctors said his chances of survival were two out of ten - but we knew without the surgery it was 0 out of 10.  I spent days at the hospital -  seven hours of surgery - but our sweet boy made it.  However there were problems, and he developed hydrocephalus and needed shunt surgery.  When this was over, I held Emanuel on my lap and said, "Shelton Emanuel your Big Mama has just about had it.  Now I think you're going to make it.  Next February you'll be one year old and I'll be forty-four.  I promise you this, we'll have the biggest birthday party there every was."  Shelton Emanuel was walking and beginning to talk when we had our twin birthday celebration - a glorious day!
Of all the memories I have of this precious little boy with his impish grin, I cherish the first Sunday in advent 1973 when we lit the first candle on our Advent wreath, we sang, "O Come, O Come, Emanuel."  My dear Shelton Emanuel came over to me, climbed in my lap, and said, "Here I is B- Mama."  Then I knew for sure Emanuel means God is with us.

 The gold charm bracelet I was given in 1982 holds discs with the names of the first six children who came to live with us in 1969.  In the center of the bracelet are the silhouettes of a boy and girl kissing: DLP and SEC -- my two very special children.

. . . And the tradition continues! 

Big Mama and Shelton celebrating their birthdays

in 2015!

and in 2016!