Something about this story doesn’t add up, but even if it’s a lie we’re cool with it.
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A few days ago a lot of people on Turtleboy’s Facebook roster were sharing this story about a 5 year old boy in Tennessee who died in Santa’s arms during a hospital visit. Warning, it’s really, really, really sad and awful:
This is what happens when a terminally ill child dies in Santa’s arms. “I’d just gotten home from work that day,” recalled Schmitt-Matzen, 60, a mechanical engineer and president of Packing Seals & Engineering in Jacksboro. “The telephone rang. It was a nurse I know who works at the hospital. She said there was a very sick 5-year-old boy who wanted to see Santa Claus.
“I told her, ‘OK, just let me change into my outfit.’ She said, ‘There isn’t time for that. Your Santa suspenders are good enough. Come right now.’ ”
Schmitt-Matzen got to the hospital in 15 minutes. He met the lad’s mother and several family members.
“She’d bought a toy from (the TV show) PAW Patrol and wanted me to give it to him,” he said, voice growing husky. “I sized up the situation and told everyone, ‘If you think you’re going to lose it, please leave the room. If I see you crying, I’ll break down and can’t do my job.’ ”
Nobody entered with him. They watched, sobbing, from a hallway window in the Intensive Care Unit.
I’m now going to relay what happened next, just as Schmitt-Matzen spoke to me. Space does not allow inclusion of the numerous pauses he took while struggling to maintain composure:
“When I walked in, he was laying there, so weak it looked like he was ready to fall asleep. I sat down on his bed and asked, ‘Say, what’s this I hear about you’re gonna miss Christmas? There’s no way you can miss Christmas! Why, you’re my Number One elf!
“He looked up and said, ‘I am?’
“I said, ‘Sure!’
“I gave him the present. He was so weak he could barely open the wrapping paper. When he saw what was inside, he flashed a big smile and laid his head back down.
‘“They say I’m gonna die,’ he told me. ‘How can I tell when I get to where I’m going?’
“I said, ‘Can you do me a big favor?’
“He said, ‘Sure!’
“When you get there, you tell ’em you’re Santa’s Number One elf, and I know they’ll let you in.
“He said, ‘They will?’
“I said, ‘Sure!’
“He kinda sat up and gave me a big hug and asked one more question: ‘Santa, can you help me?’
“I wrapped my arms around him. Before I could say anything, he died right there. I let him stay, just kept hugging and holding on to him.
“Everyone outside the room realized what happened. His mother ran in. She was screaming, ‘No, no, not yet!’ I handed her son back and left as fast as I could.
“I spent four years in the Army with the 75th Rangers, and I’ve seen my share of (stuff). But I ran by the nurses’ station bawling my head off. I know nurses and doctors see things like that every day, but I don’t know how they can take it.’”
In despair, Schmitt-Matzen was ready to hang up his suit. “I’m just not cut out for this,” he reasoned.
It’s obviously hard to read that because you assume it’s true, and you think about your own kids, and it’s just so freaking terrible. But when Turtleboy first read the story, something didn’t smell right. It all seemed too perfectly scripted, and because of the line of work that we are in we naturally become skeptical of any viral Facebook story like this.
Turns out we’re not alone. And it’s looking more and more like the whole thing was a hoax. The Knoxville, TN newspaper that published the original story has retracted it:
“Since publication, the News Sentinel has done additional investigation in an attempt to independently verify Schmitt-Matzen’s account. This has proven unsuccessful,” the newspaper explains.
As it turns out Santa isn’t saying the names of the nurse who called him, the exact date it happened, the hospital it happened in, or the family whose five year old boy died. Granted he’s got good reasons for doing so – privacy issues. Plus the nurse could lose her job. But generally when you tell an amazing story that no one witnessed and no one was around to verify, Turtleboy gets suspicious.
Here’s some other things that seemed……odd
- The kid was having a coherent conversation with Santa and then just died? I’m not a doctor, but if the kid was about to die wouldn’t there be someone in there with him besides Santa? You can just be talking normally one second and die the next?
- His parents and family agreed to leave the room of their dying son so he could be held by a stranger in private? Yea, can’t say I’d consent to that. How convenient.
- The parents had a wrapped Christmas gift ready to give to Santa in October? OK.
- The whole episode with the kid presumably lasted only a couple minutes. So if Santa got stuck at a red light on the way over you’re telling me none of this would’ve happened? He just happened to get there in the nick of time (no pun intended) and saw this kid’s last moments on earth? Certainly makes the story a lot juicier.
- Santa makes a living pretending to be an imaginary person. He lies to each and every child he’s ever met. Is it really that far fetched to believe that the boy is imaginary too?
- You can search the obituaries of all reported deaths in the Knoxville area. You cannot find the obituary of a five year old boy though.
- The Knoxville Sentinel has also retracted their story, because they can’t know for sure that it actually happened.
- This supposedly happened almost two months ago. He told his story to the newspaper. But yet he didn’t write anything on his Facebook page, despite the fact that he posts on Facebook (mostly about politics) all the time.
Anyway, gun to my head I’m guessing this story didn’t happen. Nothing adds up. I mean, I want to believe that it’s real, but I just can’t.
But ya know what? I’m not even mad at the guy if he is lying. I shed a nice little tear when I read it, and it made me think about how much I love my family during the holidays. He made me hug Turtleboy Jr. just a little bit harder because of this tall tale. And for that I am grateful. What more can you ask for from a fictional character from the Auburn Mall than to bring a family together like that at the holidays?
This is a guy we all accept because he makes kids happy. It doesn’t matter that we all know he’s not real. We don’t care that he’s filling our kid’s brains with propaganda about flying reindeer, and promises to provide Hatchimals that he doesn’t have to pay for. Because he makes them happy, and in turn we are happy. Santa’s been lying to kids for generations and they’re better off for it. Now he’s lying to parents, and we might just be better off for it as well.
The bottom line is that the obviously the media had to look into this. It was just too big. Plus, with all the talk about “fake news” and hoaxes out there, this is a good life lesson for everyone. Just because something is on the Internet doesn’t mean it’s true.
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