We’re crying so much right now.
Meet Eric Schmitt-Matzen.
And if you’re wondering, yes, he plays Santa Claus and does around 80 gigs annually. He’s almost Santa personified, with his real snowy beard and 310 pounds. In fact, he was even born on December 6 – which is St. Nicholas day. He gets his wife, Sharon to sometimes play Mrs. Claus, and even his civilian attire regularly includes Santa suspenders.
Anyone can see that Schmitt-Matzen enjoys the role he plays. As Santa, he gets to spread joy and cheer to kids and their families everywhere, until a few days ago, when he received a call from the local hospital.
Schmitt-Matzen, a 60-year-old mechanical engineer and president of Packing Seals & Engineering in Jacksboro recalls that he just got home from work that day. It was a nurse he knew who works at the local hospital, and she told him that a very sick 5-year-old boy wanted to see Santa Claus.
He told her that he’s just going to put on his outfit, but she replied that there’s no time for that and that his Santa suspenders will be good enough.
Schmitt-Matzen arrived at the hospital 15 minutes later and met the boy’s mom, who handed him a Paw Patrol toy to give to the boy. He sized up the situation and told the family that he’d also “break down” if someone would cry, so he entered the room alone.
Here’s the story of what happened next, as Schmitt-Matzen told to The Knoxville News Sentinel:
“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.’”
After that, he said that he cried all the way home. He said he was crying so hard that he had a hard time seeing good enough to drive.
Watch the video on the next page to see what happened next…
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