Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

December 21, 2013

Merry Christmas: Mother, son reunited after 20 years

Bluefield Daily Telegraph

PRINCETON — Santa Claus arrived at the Christmas party and gave Eleanor Farmer a present, but the present she wanted was sitting beside her already. She smiled, reached out and held hands with the son she had not seen in more than 20 years.

Farmer, who said she would soon be 86, resides at the Princeton Health Care Center. The center was filled Friday with visiting sons, daughters, grandchildren, sisters and brothers attending the annual Christmas party. In one dining room, Farmer’s son, 62-year-old Daniel Townsend, was sitting by her side. It was a moment they had not shared for years.

“I haven’t seen her for 20, 30 years,” Townsend said over the voices of people catching up with loved ones. “They called me and said, ‘Do you want to see your mother?’”

Finances kept Townsend from making the journey from Delaware to southern West Virginia, but a program called Second Wind Dreams made the visit possible, said Katrina Tickle, assistant activities director.

The program helps fulfill the dreams of the elderly, Tickle said. In one instance, an elderly woman got to ride a Harley Davidson motorcycle one more time. She took the desired ride in a sidecar.

Farmer’s dream of seeing her son was fulfilled by the program providing him with the funds necessary for a bus ticket. He rode a bus for 17 hours so he could be with his mother for Friday’s Christmas party.

“The Sleep Inn at Princeton was able to give him a discount for a room. We paid for it,” Tickle said.

Cathy Combs, of Princeton, Farmer’s niece, said her aunt always talks of visiting her home in Delaware and seeing her son.

“She always used to say, ‘I want to go back and see Delaware, and he came to her,” Combs stated as she watched mother and son. Townsend added that he hoped to visit his mother again next summer.

Townsend said he keeps in touch with his mother by calling her every Wednesday and Friday. As he spoke, a famous person entered the dining room.

“Is everybody ready for Santa Claus?” bellowed Old St. Nick. He gave presents to Farmer and other residents, but she kept smiling and looking to her son.

“That’s my son,” she said happily. When asked how it felt to have him there, she smiled gently, reached over to him and held his hand.

— Contact Greg Jordan at