To Delete or Not to Delete: That May Be the Question

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by Helen Baldwin |

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“MomMom! MomMOM!”

When hollered out in glass-shattering decibels, my grandma moniker can mean anything. During my recent extensive time in charge of our grandchildren, Clara, 6, and James, 4, I’ve dashed to the scene of what sounded like emergency status more than once.

One episode of Clara’s “MomMOM!” revealed that “Jamesie likes ketchup now!”

Another recent blood-curdling squeal from Clara grabbed my attention when “MomMOM!” was followed by “Eeeeek! Jamesie’s BLEEDING!” James, a rambunctious boo-boo magnet, sported a tiny bit of blood on his finger. Given the evidence of various mishaps dotting his body, that one was almost unworthy of mention; however, TLC and a bandage were duly administered.

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James is capable of sounding his own alarms, thanks to his stellar teacher, although he usually presents his dramatic summons in person.

“MomMom, come quick — Sissy needs you! Come on — right now!”

Maybe she does, and maybe she doesn’t.

One of Clara’s recent cries for help came while she was typing on my computer.

“MomMOM!” I sprinted to the computer, fearing something had gobbled up all my precious folders on the desktop. She was calm.

“What do you need, Clara?” I asked warily.

Pointing to a partial page of typed gobbledygook, she asked, “How do I delete this, MomMom?”

I smiled (OK, I breathed a sigh of relief), and my mind skipped down memory lane.


I was thankful my husband, Randy, and I lived close to both sets of parents in Fort Worth, Texas, for many years. If we couldn’t visit in person, we could call for free. I’d keep in touch with those outside the “local calling” zone by handwriting letters.

Randy’s mother, Nell, regularly wrote a lengthy letter and mailed it to her daughter, Cheri, who lived several states away. Cheri was to forward the letter to another relative, who continued the process until the letter reached the dead end: me. By then, everything in the letter was outdated because Randy and I usually knew things first.

While Nell’s spelling wouldn’t have earned any spelling bee kudos, her phonetic spelling rendered her letters pretty easy to follow.

And then Nell got a computer and learned how to send emails. Sorta.

Like most of us folks who aren’t tech-savvy, she wanted to learn just the basics. And in her mind, she succeeded.

Those of us at the receiving end of her emails tried our collective best to teach her one more thing: how to use the delete key for corrections.

Nell’s spelling in her handwritten correspondence may not have always been correct; however, some of her typing boggled the minds of those with even the most proficient deciphering skills. Nell was aware of some of her typed goofs, but she had no clue how to delete and zero interest in learning. Several lines — or even paragraphs — down in the email, she’d note, “That funny-looking word up there should be (fill in the blank).”

Which funny word? I’d wonder.

Sometimes Nell, with increasingly fuzzy vision, outdid herself. Her “irfghee miney id sime amount” will likely remain a mystery.

The delete key would have come in handy for Nell’s readers, but the memories wouldn’t be so fond.


I was plopped into the world of orthopedic and multiple handicapping conditions as a kindergarten teacher at Brockman School in Columbia, South Carolina. My students had a mix of cognitive and physical capabilities. Most of their parents simply wanted the best for their children, as all parents should want.

One devoted mother, whose child had a severe form of cerebral palsy, mentioned to me one day that she’d been asked if she wished her son had been born “normal.” Her reply — “No, because it’s made me who I am” — baffled me. I couldn’t imagine not wanting a more “normal” life if it had been possible.

There was no way to know that someday I would understand completely.


Randy and I welcomed our third baby, Jeffrey, several years after we moved from Columbia. We had barely recuperated from the shock of parenting a newborn in our 40s when the diagnosis of SMA left us reeling.

Our SMA journey, kicking off in disbelief and fear, morphed naturally into one of determination and gratitude for the connections to others in the same shoes. Our brief SMA assignment ended a few months later.

Witnessing the power of prayer and faith and meeting exceptional SMA families were blessings I wouldn’t have had without SMA in my life.

My belief in heaven convinced me that Jeffrey is in the perfect place, perfectly healed. And he’s not so far away.

I have pondered that if I could have deleted the SMA diagnosis from our sweet baby’s life, would I have opted to do so?

All things considered, I genuinely understand that parent’s perspective so many years ago.

Something else I wouldn’t want to delete?


Note: SMA News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of SMA News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to spinal muscular atrophy.

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