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Upon Their Hands They Will Carry you
Page 25

An Oak Coffee Table and Hard Surfaces

The doctor and I, like in the old song, Nature Boy, by Nat King Cole, spoke of many things, fools and kings as we waited for our children who were taking part in a play group.

There was the sadness in his soul and I saw that same look out of Rodneyís eyes, too. The conversation always came back to what decisions we had to make for our childís welfare.

"You know, If I didnít have my practice here I would pick up and go to Dallas. I believe the Dallas Society for Crippled Children is doing a better job as far as therapy goes. Dallas also has a school for the handicapped called Carroll. It is a place where a child can attend during the day just like regular school. They have buses to pick the children up from all over the city but you must live in Dallas proper, they tell me."

I dutifully wrote the names and addresses down and stuck them away for safe keeping.

Some years later I read in the paper a doctor in Oklahoma City had committed suicide and tried to kill his handicapped child at the same time. He died but the child lived. I often wondered if it was the same doctor with whom I had shared time in the waiting room. It bothered me that I had not tried to offer help to him with his little girl but, on the other hand, he didnít ask for anything and I didnít want to push in on his space and busy schedule if he didnít need me.

These are the scars left on our hearts that will forever be with us. That was close to fifty years ago, but I still remember the look in his eyes and the hurt that seemed to rest on his shoulders.

On this particular morning I was very depressed over the conditions at the hospital. We seemed to have reached a plateau with Rhondaís progress and, as usual, I was thinking about the approaching time when she would need to start school.

National events played a part in what happened as far as our resolve to move to Dallas. Rodney had been working for The Federal Aviation Agency. He came home and was uncharacteristically in an excited state of mind.

"Something bad is going on and I donít know what it is. There were secret service people all over the place. Planes are being made ready for them to move out. Have you heard anything?" He was looking intently at me because Iím sure my face and eyes were swollen from crying.

"President Kennedy has been shot. Its been on the television. A terrible, terrible thing." For once I didnít mind having the television going all evening as we watched together what would become recorded history. The nation was shocked into a paralyzed state and the future was to tell of a loss of innocence for that age. The people we knew in Oklahoma City were quite shocked by the death of this youthful president. I never bothered that much about politics but the horror of this made me feel so sad for his youthful widow and his childrenís loss.

Maybe the events struck a note with Rodney, too, because it wasnít long after that he came home with the news he had a job interview in Dallas with Texas Instruments and wanted to know if I would like to go with him for a three day vacation.

I had been to Ft. Worth but that was all. As we drove down the wide interstate into the magnificent city of Dallas I fell in love with this metropolis. Whatever Rodney decided job wise was okay with me as far as Dallas was concerned. When he got the job we sold the few things we had collected all but Grammaís oak table. This we took to Mom and Dad for safe keeping, all we had were the clothes on our back and, of course, our vehicle.

"Are you sure you want to leave that here?" Mother looked from the lovely old table to me. "You know how many people we always have going through here. I canít promise anything as far as people setting glasses or coffee cups on it."

"Oh you caní t hurt it, Iíve discovered. Kids with watercolors havenít bothered the surface, nor have we been careful about any

coffee cups or drinks either. The wood is Oak and its finish and nothing seems to penetrate the finish." Mother looked away from the table with an acceptance of what I said.

Only in the year 2011 of the many children Rhonda tutored around the old table was their only one to make an impression on it and that was by Rhondaís sisterís son.

Rhonda helped me home school her sister, the boyís mother, around the table and they worked through her lessons. Her sister would have been thoroughly upset to see what her son had done to the top so we quietly sanded it down and brushed it with a sealer to restore the original finish. Now her great nephews and nieces all gather there to follow her directions on one project after another from Bible stories to play dough.

On our way to Dallas back then we brushed possessions away from us, except for the oak table and moved on to Dallas. Because we knew nothing about the city, our first rented apartment was at Oak Cliff. The small apartment was fully furnished. There as a water cooler for controlling the heat. The apartment was closer to Rhondaís therapy and the reason we chose that location. Good things and not so pleasant things were ahead for us to learn about Oak Cliff. Years later the Oak table once again graced our living room in Oklahoma.

My saving the addresses given to me by the doctor came in very handy. I did call to tell him we were in Dallas and he said I could mention his name as the person who referred us to them.

"I had to leave, you know," I told the doctor. "An awful confrontation with the doctor who was so emotionally involved because of his own child he institutionalized finally happened."

"Put this child in an institution and forget you ever had her," He told me.

No one advised me of the manís own sad circumstance. I should have guessed by the way he spoke to me with his head down in his hands. It was as if he wanted to bury himself from any further discussion.

"By the laws of Jehovah I will not do that," I all but yelled at him and walked out in tears. All the doctors sided with him because they knew of his despair. Rodney held me close in his arms as I stumbled away from that place for the last time.

On the telephone was the last time I ever spoke with the one doctor who gave me understanding, a short friendship, and a solution.

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