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Upon Their Hands They Will Carry you
Page 35

In Love With Michael Jackson

The real estate agent had no rentals but assured us one was coming up and this place on Jonesboro street was what she was showing us now. It had not been cleaned and because we needed to get into any place we accepted the offer to be paid for cleaning. What choice did we have? The Rider moving truck full of our possessions was now parked in the drive. Over the years I’ve had nightmares over dragging possessions from one rent house to another.

It was the strangest experience I’ve ever had as far as cleaning, before or since. Everywhere was litter. Boxes of Kentucky Fried Chicken, containers from McDonalds and other fast foods were scattered randomly over piles of newspapers, old clothes, some books, and other sorts of household trash.

We filled black plastic sacks with all they could hold. I often wished the bags had been counted because it was an unbelievable number to be stacked in the alley. Upon reaching the floor itself the shock was that these were relatively clean. No filth had to scraped up as had been the case in the apartment on Elliot Street in Oklahoma City. To carry those plastic bags to the alley must have made the neighbors wonder what was happening inside.

The only actual cleaning to be done was in the bathroom where some industrious woman had piled layers of floor wax on the tile until it looked like old parchment. The area was small and it was no problem to strip that wax off. If I had known the Dallas school system was a little overwhelmed by the new Special Education demand this cleaning would never have been done.

Not to complain, because the short time we lived there burns bright in my mind because we were so happy. There were children in the neighborhood and this time Mark was the person for whom we looked to find him companionship. A beautiful old Sycamore tree stood in the front yard, a small yard. Neighbors were naturally physically close because the houses had a proximity to each other. All these things are lovely memories. We were invited to craft making parties, visited daily by one or the other for a short coffee break in the morning, and sometimes brought bits of a dish someone had created for their family. Maybe it would be a few popcorn balls, some slices of home made bread, or whatever they had extra.

It was too bad we couldn’t get help with Rhonda in the Dallas school system. They were simply not ready to take handicapped children at the time.

Next door a little girl, Amy, came every evening for art lessons and a safe place until her mother returned from work. Along with her friend who came with her. They were sweet and gentle friends for Rhonda. Amy’s art lessons I gave her allowed the girl to be moved up to the grade where she belonged chronologically, her mother told me just before we left.

"I’ll always remember how Amy learned to paint the sunlight from you." Her mother was grateful.

The comment humbled me and once again through art, my life was full and I appreciated being an instrument in the little girls world for a feeling of her own self worth.

Garland, Texas was our next move and again the experiences there were special.

"How can I repay this girl who has helped Rhonda to the bathroom for all the year."

I made inquiries of the bright little woman who was their teacher.

The woman was standing at Rhonda’s desk pulling the tape from off her paper. Rhonda couldn’t hold the paper with one hand so this ingenious woman simply taped the paper to the desk so it wouldn’t slip. Because it was hard for Rhonda’s hand to hold a pencil she dropped it quite often. The teacher tied it to her wrist with a string and it could be easily pulled back up onto the desk where she could pick it up.

"Her folks and she are proud people but I don’t think they would resent her having a coat. I know she needs one."

So it was, we found an attractive coat for the girl who was just beginning to enjoy new clothes. The look on her face when she tried the new coat to wear will forever be with me. It was a small price to pay for her having taken on a woman’s dedication for helping someone weaker than she was to get to the bathroom. Surely God in his infinite mercy has stayed with her through the hard times of her life. It is my prayer that this has been so.

My heart was touched after we returned to Oklahoma where that teacher from Garland, Texas sent Rhonda’s records to her new school.

"Her mother brings her daily to class, " her previous teacher from Texas made a note at the bottom. This was the thing I so loved about the Texas people. They always found something good to say in any situation. I miss that.

The most fun memory is the one of Rhonda having to endure the African American girl in her class who delighted in picking and tormenting her. Rhonda told me of the girl’s behavior and I didn’t know the girl was Black.

"You will just have to find a way to get along." This was my only advice.

Rhonda was "in love" with Michael Jackson. He often came to Dallas we were told. Because he was so well known it was his way to take on some character so he could do community service. Most often he wore a gray wig, old men’s clothing and walked with a cane so no one would recognize him. When Rhonda wanted a notebook with his picture on the front I dutifully bought it for her.

It wasn’t long until she told me her tormenter at school now was her best friend.

"How did that happen?" I wanted to know.

"She saw Michael Jackson on my notebook and said, "Do you like him?"

"I love him, I told her," Rhonda was grinning slyly.

"Me too,’ she said to me!" Rhonda was outright giggling now.

"You see we both are in love with Michael Jackson, and we’re best buddies."

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