A Mother’s Wish

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Every graduation ceremony holds special meaning, but Craig Norton’s graduation from UMass Amherst had a greater significance than most. His mother, Debbie Norton, had hoped to see her son walk across the stage to receive his bachelor’s degree. However, following a four-year battle with cancer,  she was hospitalized in Milford Regional’s ICU a mere two-days before her son’s graduation ceremony.  As her health was failing, her medical team rallied to make sure her wish would come true.

Her husband, Tim, shares his family’s story below:

By the grace of God, a Mom’s ordinary dream fulfilled in an extraordinary way, May 10th, 2018.

The Norton family would like to extend their sincere thanks and gratitude to all of the doctors, nurses, and staffs of Milford Regional Medical Center, Dana Farber Cancer Institute, and Brigham and Woman’s Hospital for all of their compassion and wonderful care given to Debbie Norton, during her courageous journey.

One of Debbie’s greatest dreams was witnessing her son’s college graduation which appeared to be impossible when she became a patient in the ICU of Milford Regional Medical Center, a mere two days before the ceremony. The staff learned of our family’s situation and devised a magnificent plan. Dr. Prashanth Rau personally contacted the college while attending nurse Gina Sabatini orchestrated the details of this miraculous event.

On the evening of May 10th, 2018, UMass Amherst Chancellor Kumble R. Subbaswamy and Carol Barr, Senior Vice Provost and Dean of Undergraduate Education, traveled to Milford Regional Medical Center’s ICU. Debbie and our entire family then proudly witnessed the diploma presentation. Our son, Craig Norton, received his BS degree in Computer Science with Honors, at the foot of his mother’s hospital bed, surrounded by his immediate family, including his younger brother, Christian, a rising Junior at UMass Amherst. 

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Craig Norton receives his diploma from UMass Amherst Chancellor Kumble R. Subbaswamy (left) and Senior Vice Provost and Dean of Undergraduate Education Carol Barr (right).

There wasn’t a dry eye in the entire room or the ICU.  Through this generous act of kindness, Debbie was able to witness Craig’s graduation in person and also envision Christian’s graduation in her mind. Debbie remains in the wonderful care of Milford Regional Medical Center’s ICU and PCU teams at the writing of this letter.  

Craig is continuing his education at UMass Amherst to obtain a dual Masters in Computer Science from CICS and a Master’s in Business and Analytics from the Isenberg School of Management. Our second son, Christian, is also attending UMass Amherst College of Engineering.

We are richly blessed by all of the love and care extended to our family.  We will be forever grateful and will hold this memory in our hearts for the rest of our lives.

In Gratitude and Love,

Debbie, Tim, Craig & Christian Norton


Editor’s Note: Sadly, Debbie passed away on May 18th.  We, at Milford Regional, were honored to not only care for her, but to share in such a special moment with her family.

2 Comments on A Mother’s Wish

  1. audrey397 // May 29, 2018 at 5:46 pm // Reply

    Thank you for this. Thank you for making Debbie’s wish come true. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

  2. Jennifer S. Norton // June 6, 2018 at 10:56 pm // Reply

    Thank you for taking care of our beloved Auntie Debbie and for making this beautiful moment happen for her. She was truly an angel on Earth. Paul & I will miss her forever. This generous act of kindness will always live on. God bless all of you.

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