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Upon Their Hands They Will Carry you
Page 7

A Trojan Horse Filled With Divided Unity

Rod's class picnic at the end of the year was held at Boomer lake, a place I had never visited. There was a large covered deck built out over the water. This heavy platform let us walk across it with no movement of the floor which was directly over the water. At one end of the space a juke box filled with the latest dance music caused the area to all at once be of interest. The rails around this porch like place allowed a person to be able to look down into the red, sienna colored, water which had run off the red clay soil during the spring rains. That hue was so strong the waters looked to be mud moving and rippling. Benches lined the outer edges and there was plenty of room for seating the folks who were onlookers for the dancers on the floor. I was reminded of the happy times at Flaming Arrow in highschool at Chilocco Boarding School where we danced away our cares every evening.

My husband was relaxed and seemed well acquainted with everyone. The men and their wives were on a first name basis with each other and I felt a little hurt and left out when it was made apparent the group had been socializing for the entire year. This was the first suggestion in our married life that there was to be a separation like this and it was the beginning of having to deal with this arrangement. Apparently it was for this reason Rod has spent most of his time away, rather than studying at home. I remained aloof, staying apart, and did not make any attempt to get to know anyone. I had been slighted and It was a little late in the year to become friends as far as I was concerned. Maybe the joy of association might have relieved some of the heaviness of grief over my child's injuries but apparently these people had little interest in my struggles at home, in fact weren’t even aware of what I was suffering. This was almost fifty years ago and just the beginning of my realization the majority of people would be largely uninterested in the pain of a disabled person or of the people caring for that person.

From that experience I made up my mind, no matter what, I would put on a smile, a happy face, totally ignoring anything to stand in the way of what was a Trojan horse filled with divided unity. I didn’t even realize then that I would never fit into Rodney’s world and he would find it difficult to accept mine, although he valiantly tried. Race, religion, the rancher’s culture, beside Rodney’s oil field family’s unbreakable determination to stay to the accepted practice of putting children like Rhonda away, too, gave us a separation in many ways but instead of creating a barrier this seemed to simply stimulate my will to work through all of it. In a happy positive way I would count the trials as a challenge.

Rod had made a decision, alone, in his usual way, to look for work in Oklahoma City. This too, would become a pattern. All that was left, in Stillwater, was for us to clean up a few small debts, say goodbye to friends of my faith, and to his Uncle's family. After all, they had been my friends and confidants.

His aunt took me in and treated me as well as one of her own daughters. She seemed genuinely proud to do that. Mary Jane had her master's degree in Home Economics and taught at the college. She was a well-spring of virtual knowledge as far as running their business, sewing wardrobes for her own college girls, running a small café for their sales lot, and was just generally managing any of the work and services about the town. The woman’s father who was a banker taught her well.

The two girls were in college and were busy with their lives. Mary Jane was left to pick up the work at the cattle sales lot. I learned a lot from this woman, Mary Jane Selph Flood. I enjoyed the stories she told about her own family. Her father was a banker and his father had been a doctor who was "engaged" in treating some of the early day outlaws who hid out in his small town close to Stillwater. These rogues simply made payment for the fixing of their gunshot wounds with a sack of money left on the table. The doctor would not and, in fact, could not ask any questions. The matter of protecting his patients and family had to remain uppermost.

Mary Jane's husband, Ross, Rod’s uncle, suffered a heart attack that year and I remember the day she came by the house to tell me. It was the first time she showed anything that was close to worry. After she stayed a while to play with the baby, Mary Jane stood up with a quick movement as always so she could go on about her business. Her usual personality, that of a positive, bright, attitude prevailed. We remained friends for all the years and I called her on occasion to visit even after we moved back to Ponca City. She and her husband, Ross, moved away from the sales lot as they aged and built a beautiful home in Stillwater where they lived.

"My friends told me how you have paid off your small debts here," Mary Jane smiled to me as she went out my door for the last time.

"I'm proud of you," she said.

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