Strength and tenderness

May 6, 2016 | (19) Comments

“A woman is the full circle. Within her is the power to create, nurture and transform.”

This quote from Diane Mariechild, author of Mother Wit, is one I think of often when I walk the halls of our hospital. Throughout those halls, in children’s rooms, in the food court areas and in the waiting rooms, I see the mothers of the children for whom we are caring. I see them, some with concern on their faces and determination in their spirits. Others who are a well of hope and reassurance for their children. They are a constant reminder to me of the strength of mothers.

As we honor the many women in our lives on Sunday who are mothers or mother figures to so many, I am reminded of one woman in particular – Elizabeth DeLuca. Elizabeth is the mother of four daughters, including her precious Caroline who she lost on March 24 of this year.

Caroline was born with a rare neurodegenerative condition called STXBP1 (or Ohtahara Syndrome). Elizabeth remembers her as “a big strong healthy baby.” But after only one day home – “one day of normal,” as Elizabeth has described it – the lives of the DeLuca family would forever be changed. Caroline’s 18 years were filled with countless tests and treatments, and much of her life was spent here at Texas Children’s Hospital.

Elizabeth constantly researched neurodegenerative and neurotransmitter diseases and available treatments – she was such an informed, integral part of Caroline’s care team. However, she was also resolved that Caroline was not a diagnosis, and she was determined that Caroline’s life would be filled with much more than a list of limitations. She involved Caroline in church, sports and music and exposed her to Broadway shows – Mamma Mia was Caroline’s favorite.

Elizabeth was her daughter’s advocate, nurturer and most adamant cheerleader. She was more than Caroline’s mother, she was her champion. And when I think of her, I am in awe, just as I am so many times when I hear the stories of our patients and the mothers here with them.

Like Elizabeth, many of our patients’ moms have other children, and they are wives. Many have jobs or give of themselves in so many other areas of their lives. Yet, they also are here, ensuring their children have a voice, providing information they have researched and asking the critical questions that make all the difference in their children’s care and outcomes.

Mothers have within them a seemingly endless reservoir of strength and tenderness for their children. They are the full circle, and I’m so thankful for the opportunity to celebrate them on Sunday. But I especially appreciate and am inspired by our patients’ mothers every single day.

Happy, blessed Mother’s Day to all.

19 Responses to “Strength and tenderness”

  1. Laverne bookout baronette

    My heart has been touch by this in ways that only a few can understand! Thank you for the precious story of Caroline! You have a tender, giving heart!
    Happy Mothers Day to you also!
    You have walked in both Mom And Dad shoes
    Love you, LaVerne

  2. Bonnie Likover


    You have expressed in such a poignant way the extent of a Mother’s love for her precious child who faces adversity. I too walked the halls of TCH when our second son was born with congenital heart disease. Thank you for putting into words a Mother’s love and the endless ways she will fight for her children. You’re a good man Mr. Wallace.

  3. Dana Miller

    Your kind tribute to Elizabeth Deluca is why TCH is the greatest pediatric hospital in the country. Your leadership and those who paved the way before you knew that above all else, TCH is about the patient community, a family many who pass through your facility briefly, others who stay longer and change those whom they meet for the better. The Deluca’s are those who make all of our lives better.

    Best to you and your team at TCH.

  4. Samelle

    Yes, Elizabeth has been a good friend an mentor to me. We need someone like Elizabeth fighting for us moms, with special needs kids here at Texas Children Hospital. She’s has been a true super hero for me an my son Joshua. I Love You Elizabeth. I miss you Ms Caroline, an that beautiful smile. Thank you Mr.Wallace for your kind words about the DeLuca family.

  5. Eva Alcorn

    Thank you for sharing this amazing story. It reminds us to be grateful for the moments we have and to always remember to Live outside of the walls of circumstance. God Bless You

  6. Jessica Rodriguez

    I am so moved by this post, thank you! This is so true. not only are the patients changing lives but so are the parents of these warriors. I am reminded of why I am in this field. Its to serve these families and its truly a calling.

  7. elizabeth Ross DeLuca

    Mark, thank you for your loving tribute, not only to me but to my Caroline. I will miss her forever and your words were a soothing balm to my soul. Special needs children and TCH will be in my heart forever. Without your team, beginning in the NICU and ending with Houston Hospice, Caroline’s life would not have been so rich.
    Mark, continue to make TCH a wonderful place for children and their families. I am here if you need me.
    Elizabeth DeLuca (missing her Caroline)

    • Mark A.Wallace

      Elizabeth, it’s Texas Children’s honor and mission to give all of our patients the best possible care and service. Caroline loved you and Anthony so dearly and both of you are two of the finest, most nurturing parents I have observed in my 26 years at Texas Children’s. Caroline left loving memories and a legacy for all who had the pleasure to know and care for her. All my love, Mark

    • Lorna Spiotto

      I was teary eyed when I read the memoir of Caroline. I was her nurse multiple times in 10 Tower ( moved to 11 Tower now) and I know her very well as much as I know you as her mom and as her advocate. I looked up to your caring, dedication , passion and all the list that I can think of you and it is a circle….cause it keeps going on and on. It was an honor to work with Caroline and the family. Also thank you for providing our patients with goodies during Christmas….we are grateful of your generosity. Love, Lorna

  8. Ashley Craig

    This was so beautiful. It truly brought tears to my eyes. I hope I never have to experience the trials of having a sick child. If I can manifest, and mold into my daughter, even half of the courage those mom have, I will be able to consider this life a success. Thank you for a boost this morning!

  9. Perry Ann Reed

    Thank you for sharing the DeLuca’s story with TCH. As a 20 + year friend of the family I am honored to see both TCH and the DeLuca’s partnering to make care for all patients the most exceptional in the world.

  10. Heather Cherry

    What a beautiful and touching tribute… brings tears to my eyes. Such an incredible reminder of why are all here –for our patients and families. I am honored to be part of this exceptional team.

  11. Dawn Wilson

    Thank you for such an inspiring & heartfelt tribute. I am blessed & honored to call TCH my Home. I am truly Thankful for the privilege of working with such amazing patients/families & staff!

  12. Elizabeth More

    what a lovely tribute to Elizabeth DeLuca. I was unaware that she lost her precious Caroline. I have heard her speak on several occasions and was always in awe of her courage and strength. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on a remarkable women.

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