‘Pappy’ comes home for the holidays

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Santa Claus fulfills Ava’s wish this Christmas

By Denyse Clark

Ava got her Christmas wish!


All she asked the “jolly old elf” for during a trip to the Children’s Museum in Houston last month was for her grandfather, Tim Killian, to come home in time for Jesus’ birthday. 

Last week, Tim’s daughter, Angela Steele, received a text from her mom, Marie Killian, which read, ‘We’re coming home.’” 

Angela said she didn’t tell her four-year-old daughter Ava right away, but soon the phone rang. 

Her parents asked had she told Ava yet and when Angela said, “no,” Tim Killian said, “Put Ava on the phone.”

“Daddy got on the phone and said, ‘Ava, Pappy’s got a surprise for you – Pappy’s coming home.’” Angela said. “Ava threw the phone down and started running around the house.”

The Killian’s and Steele’s story is a remarkable tale of love, which is the true meaning of Christmas 

In July, Tim was diagnosed with peritoneal mesothelioma, a rare form of abdominal cancer. 

Since October, Tim and Marie have called Texas home, where Tim underwent surgery at MD Anderson Cancer Center-The University of Texas in Houston. 

After his surgery, they lived in an apartment while Tim regained his strength. 

Although Angela and Ava paid a surprise visit to the Killians during Thanksgiving, the separation was still difficult for this close-knit family.

While she was in Texas, Marie’s father passed away. On Saturday, Dec. 21, she spoke of  his death.

“One of the first things I want to do is go to Memorial Park and get some closure,” a tearful Marie said. “But Ava also gave instructions, ‘Pappy, I need you at my house Christmas morning.’” 

Marie said doctors and medical staff in Houston were very kind, as were pastors who came to visit and pray for Tim. 

Also, other families struggling with their own cancer related issues helped strengthen the couple.

“They understand,” Marie said. “This has been a trial but we have also received so many blessings – It’s been an amazing journey, as well as a trial.”

Angela said being separated from her parents was also a trial for her and Ava.

“It’s been amazing, but it’s been a rough journey.” she said. 

Angela said church and community supporters wanted Marie, who is “a giver” to be on the receiving end of blessings this holiday season.

“We decided to have their home cleaned and decorated and surprise them with a parade of people when they got home. But, they got home about two hours earlier than expected,” a laughing Angela said. 

“I think my mom really gunned it coming home.”

There was also one more surprise waiting for Marie, Angela said.

“She has always bought presents for every kid at our church and was a little down because she knew that this year, she wouldn’t be able to do it,” Angela said. 

“So all the kids she had bought for in the past – and it’s about 50 of them – they made homemade gifts and bought gift cards and gave them to her.”

2013 definitely will be a Christmas to remember for the Steeles and the Killians.

Angela said last week she visited Ava’s school and while standing in the door, unbeknowst to her daughter, a special thing happened, 

“Ava told her teacher, ‘Ms. Clara, you know what I asked Santa and Jesus for?’” Angela said. “’I asked if Pappy could come home for Christmas.’” 

On Christmas Eve, Ava opened presents at Pappy’s, but today, he’s at her house.

Ava got her Christmas wish! 


Contact Denyse Clark at (803) 283-1152