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Upon Their Hands They Will Carry you
Page 8

On Grounds of a Mental Institution

"Gee mah Nittly! This has to be the red soil of planet Mars!" I exclaimed. We were on our way to Rod's aunt's home in Lexington, Oklahoma which was a hospital for the mentally challenged who were aging. The new terrain differed from the black soil of the prairie where I had grown up.

"I didn't know there was land like this anywhere in the state!" The barren, alien looking landscape truly fascinated me.

Actually, we never made it into Lexington because the abandoned military base which was our destination was looming up on the horizon. There were heavy gates through which we drove. The location had been given over to be a guarded area to hold patients. Rodney's aunt was the administrator over the institution. She invited us to stay for a short visit with her while we looked for a house in Norman, Oklahoma. Rod secured a good job at Federal Aviation in Oklahoma City and we opted to live in Norman, which was smaller in population. The stay at Lexington was to be for only a short time until we could find a house in the town that was home to the University of Oklahoma. I was in blissful ignorance of Norman holding a cerebral palsy center for children. The decision to live there was supposedly a place to be more comfortable. Rod’s aunt owned her home at that location and said she could be in and out so that we could feel we still had family close by.

Slowly our car crept along as Rod drove through the barracks looking buildings to the very edge of the compound where Auntie Pud lived. As head of the institution his aunt was given her residence in the the old quarters once held by the officer who at one time was over the base.

Auntie Pud stood in the doorway while she held the screen open in a welcoming way. She was fully dressed in her nurse's uniform and cap just as if ready to go on duty. In fact, the dedicated woman was always on call. Rod's auntie was a chain smoker and continually held a cigarette in her hand as she was now doing. She was single, a widow, who lived in this rambling old house by herself.

As I had learned many things from Mary Jane, my education was soon to be broadened by this, another bright woman, too. Naive with youthful unconcern on my part there was no knowledge the Flood's had hatched a clever scheme to slowly work me around to a place where they would be able to do what they felt was best for my child and her father, their own. At the moment there was blissful lack of fear for what was ahead.

Auntie Pud's hobby was cooking. Her kitchen was now filled with the pleasant aroma from the delectable recipes and dishes on which she had been working. The very long, wide house was where anyone could wish to live. Spacious rooms, polished furniture, large French doors leading onto a wide patio made a person know the house was designed for easy living and entertaining. Long overhanging eaves allowed the tall windows to stay open while cool summer breezes gently blew through them, unhampered by drapes or fabric. Pleasant odors of food cooking on the stove made us feel at home.

Our bedroom was at the far end of the long house . Off that master bedroom another room was adjoined the house. This space had windows covered with screens to create what I called a summer porch. Heavy outdoor furniture which was most comfortable was attractive, too. We did learn to find the pleasure of each others company in that inside, outside space especially in the evenings after dinner. Auntie Pud retired early and this extra living room gave our little family privacy. There was not one television in the whole house. For a brief time we took delight for life at this place, with each other, Rod’s aunt and the other residents at the mental hospital.

Do you mind if I read some of the books in your library?” I asked of Rod's aunt.

“Of course not! Let me show you how they are arranged.” The wise woman evidently had studied these books and must have known each one as intimately as she knew a family. They were organized and neatly set up on the shelves so that it was easy to find whatever a person wanted to know.

At Auntie's home there were people to do the cleaning, the ironing and was even a woman who enjoyed taking Rhonda for walks up and down the untraveled road in front of the house. They were patients, true, but this opportunity to get out away from the confines of their rooms they wanted.

This left me free to do research on the conditions of brain damaged children. It was probably, what fortified me in standing for the decisions I would have to make regarding Rhonda's therapy and future place of residence. I studied voraciously the behavior of children with different injuries and their learned behavior or trauma induced habits. Many times I was able to use this gained knowledge for the good of some child in one way or another. As the alcoholic who learns to deal with his problem by calling some happenings a “God Thing,” so this became that to me. It was a “God Thing” which, ultimately, caused their schemes to back fire on them.

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