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Upon Their Hands They Will Carry you
Page 56

Missy! You Get in the Shower

My determination was to be that of an artist painting a masterpiece as far as the work to do for my family. One segment of the canvas might get completed but another concentration must go to an unfinished area. Rhonda picked up each color of that work and proceeded on her own. Her still body she had to push while her stiff hands and legs seemed to have a will of their own.

"Today my body is not being very nice," sometimes she would comment and then shake her head with an attitude

to tell she wasn’t going to give in to the thought of not being able to go through her routine.

"Missy!" She now spoke to one of her cousins who was visiting us for the day. "You go get in the shower. Look at you! Shoeey! You have a definite odor, too. I’ll put your clothes in the washer while you are showering. By the time you finish they will be in the dryer. Put my robe on when you get out."

Something about Rhonda’s definite orders didn’t leave an opportunity for the little girl to rebel. Rhonda’s speech was not clear but it was strange how well the children understood her when often, adults could not.

"Listen, little girl," she was still chastising her charge as she dried the little one’s hair with a towel. "If I can drag this body into the shower, there is absolutely no reason you cannot do the same. There’s nothing to make you feel any better than being clean."

The little girl smiled in an endearing way up toward Rhonda as her aunt now combed golden strands of hair that framed her delicate face and skin. She looked like a little angel, and a clean angel at that.

More than one time in my life did I have to return to the words of the mother I met in Dallas who was raising her blind, cerebral palsied daughter.

"I cannot allow myself the self indulgence of grief. I must remain strong for Kathleen’s sake." The courage and bravery of such a person who had no feeble attitude about her in any way remained a motto to me for my own position.

There were times when I watched the rigid, spastic arms and hands of my daughter while she had to struggle to perform even the most simple of tasks for an instant I wanted to crumble in like manner.

"What a fool I am not to appreciate the beauty of seeing her care for this motherless child before her." And then, steeling myself to ignore the impossible and to revel in the potential I shook myself away from hopelessness.

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