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Holiday Guide Feature

Wish List

Local Moms Make Holiday Wishes For Their Children

Uli Loskot
Bernice Coles
Uli Loskot
Deneen Ryan
Uli Loskot
Patricia Mines
Uli Loskot
Sandy Gillim

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By Christina Royster-Hemby | Posted 11/17/2004

Christmas is the time of year when people wish for a lot of things—gifts, peace on Earth, health, good cheer. And mothers in particular wish they could grant their children’s every wish. While they often can’t, they look toward the holidays with hope—believing that this year Santa has enough gifts in his bag to go around.

Monica Pyles, a 30-year-old Remington resident, wishes she could fulfill the Christmas lists of her four children. John, 11, and Jason, 10, want a PlayStation 2 to share, and Saleena, 8, yearns for a Dora the Explorer doll with magical hair. (Jack, 5, isn’t sure what he wants.) But Pyles makes only $7 an hour at her job at the nearby Exxon on 25th Street. And she and her four youngsters are renting a room that they share. “I just feel bad when they see other kids with stuff, knowing that I can’t get them for them,” Pyles says.

But if she could grant wishes, in addition to toys, the Pyles family would have a place of their own to live in and a holiday dinner of their own, complete with Xmas cookies. But since her family only has a range to cook on, and no oven, Pyles says she is not sure that wish will be realized.

“Last year we went to some relatives’ house for Christmas. And we really enjoyed that, but I don’t want to impose on them,” Pyles says. “They don’t really have [the money] for that either.”


Other mothers have wishes that come in very large packages. Across town in Northwest Baltimore City, Deneen Ryan, mother of Shelby, wants a van.

Shelby, 8, has cerebral palsy, epilepsy, and chronic lung disease. In addition, she has to eat via feeding tube, and is nonverbal, visually impaired, and uses a wheelchair.

“Right now, I have a 1994 Toyota Camry that is not working,” Ryan, 39, says of her car, which has extensive body damage and mechanical problems. But even when the car was working, it was difficult for Ryan to transport her 6-year-old son Braxton, 60-pound Shelby, the girl’s 30-pound stroller, and the other equipment that must accompany her daughter wherever she goes.

“We have to take three bags along when Shelby travels,” Ryan says. “We have to transport a feeding pump system, which is a machine that allows her to eat when we travel. Also, we take along a suction machine, which suctions her trachea, and a backpack that contains her diapers, and other personal items.”

Ryan is also concerned that while lifting Shelby to put her in her car seat the catheter that administers her daughter’s medication may come out. “If that happens, that means that we need to get emergency attention,” she says, citing infection as a potential danger.

Ryan is able to take her daughter on a few local outings, like to church, but she has to depend on other people for rides to transport all that Shelby needs. She dreams for the day when she can take her daughter to farther-away places like Washington.

“My wish is to improve the quality of my daughter’s life,” Ryan says.


The wishes of other Baltimore mothers deal more with matters of the heart than need. For example Butchers Hill resident Patricia Mines, 55, says all she wants for Christmas is a restored relationship with her 17-year-old son, Eghosa Ehigiamusoe.

“He’s a classic [case of an] abusive young man,” Mines says of her son, who verbally abuses her and has shoved her in the past. Eghosa was incarcerated recently at Cheltenham Youth Facility, a youth detention center in Prince George’s County, for two or three months. Since he was released a few months ago, he has been living at home with his mother and younger brother.

“His behavior is not quite as volatile as it once was,” Mines says. “But he still carries the anger of his father abandoning him.” Mines moved her family to Baltimore two years ago from Atlanta, and since then she says Eghosa’s father has decided not to be a part of his son’s life.

“I would hope that one day Eghosa would address the anger,” she says. “But more importantly, I hope that the Department of Juvenile Justice becomes more responsive to the needs of troubled young men such as Eghosa.”

In the interim, Mines is looking to Eghosa’s birth name for hope. Eghosa means “God’s time is the best time,” in Nigerian, so Mines says she is just trusting God.


Some mothers, like Sandy Gillim, 36, are trying to keep their children out of trouble by shoring up certain neighborhood institutions. Gillim, a single mother of four who lives in the Franklin Square neighborhood of West Baltimore, wishes that her son P.J.’s martial-arts troop could get new uniforms. P.J., 13, has been practicing martial arts at the American Katshodo, on West Madison Street, for the last three years. Before then his life was very different.

“My son went from failing fourth grade at Furley Elementary School and acting out to coming up a grade level in reading and math,” Gillim says. “And it’s all because of this troop.”

So Gillim wants to encourage her son and the other kids who study at American Katshodo. “I think that the kids see other kids from other troops who have nice uniforms and think that they don’t belong,” she says. “His sensei teacher tells him that if you can see it, then you can reach it. And I want to take every opportunity to remind [the kids] that somebody cares about them.”

Bernice Coles has a less tangible wish for her 18-year-old daughter, Janelle. She hopes her daughter will be true to herself. Coles sent Janelle Coles off to Potomac State College in Keyser, W. Va., in August with some reservations. Janelle told her mother that she wanted to pursue a degree in modern language, but Coles says she has always felt that her daughter really wanted to be a paramedic.

“I let her go off to college because she was resistant about pursuing paramedic training directly out of high school,” Coles says. “She told me she wasn’t ready to be an adult yet. But she has been a regular Rescue 911 watcher since she was about 7 years old.”

This summer, when Janelle learned that her best friend was accepted to Potomac, she enrolled, too. But instead of being happy at Potomac, she’s been miserable, her mother says. As it turns out, Coles’ mother’s intuition was right. Janelle has since withdrawn from school.

“Janelle’s last-minute decision to apply to college was based on peer pressure and not the plan of God for her life. I fully understand how it is for young people and adults to feel misplaced in an educational career choice,” Coles says. “We have a concept in this society that a four-year degree is the goal standard for career fulfillment. But we have to understand that other career paths are just as important.”

So, Coles’ Christmas wish for Janelle, and her other two sons as well? “That they would fully pursue the purpose that God has intended for them, using the gifts, skills, and talents that he has deposited on the inside of them.” And during the season of giving, what more could anyone ask for than realizing their own gifts and sharing them with others?

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Holiday Guide Feature archives

More Stories

Stuffed (11/18/2009)
The 2009 City Paper Holiday Guide

The Gifts That Count (11/18/2009)
The presents that have stayed in our writers' thoughts

The Wish List (11/18/2009)
Gifts we wish we could afford

More from Christina Royster-Hemby

Alvin K. Brunson (4/16/2008)
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Faith Based (2/13/2008)
Religious Beliefs Shape The Dances in Full Circle's New Production

Mixed Relations (2/21/2007)
Local Dance Company Full Circle Tries To Tackle Race In America

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