RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – Last year, this grandmother was in the hospital and couldn't do Christmas for her two grandsons. This year, it's just as tough but she's reaching out hoping for a better holiday for them.
With kidney failure and diabetes, Betty Barner has a full medicine bag. She's totally disabled.
"I haven't been able to work so I just haven't had the money coming in," said Betty Johnson Barner.
The dialysis patient gets support from a dedicated nurse who goes beyond duty expectations, and a devoted husband who helps. But for the two people who motivate her the most to move, when her body's sick and she's tired, there's no money for gifts.
"But, I'm thankful to be alive. I could have been dead but I thank God he spared me to care for them because they need me. They need a mother figure in their life," she said.
The sources of strength she's talking about are her grandchildren.
"The youngest one is name Rahiem and I call him Chu Chu," said Betty. "The oldest is Rodney. I call him Yum Yum."
Don't worry we aren't spoiling the Christmas surprise. They do have a wish list they're eager to share, but like most other kids, they know there's no guarantee they'll get everything they want.
"Sketchers are shoes, you run and after that you smoke up in the air; you fly," said 5-year-old Rahiem Johnson.
"I made this with crayons and this is birds flying," 9-year-old Rodney Johnson said. "I am an artist, and I can draw and I'm a real artist."
Rodney wants an easel, art supplies, a phone, and an iPod. Rahiem wants a Wii game. Both boys want bikes. But grandma, she's grateful for any help.
She has custody. The boys have been with Betty for more than four years. She's guiding them through anger issues and learning disabilities and making sure they get the help they need.
"It makes me feel a little bad because I'm use to buying them things for the holidays," said Betty. "They've really been thru some tough situations."
We get letters and calls from several families, around this time, every year before the holidays. We try to help. In this case, we are waiting to hear back from a business that may be able and willing to help.