to right: Mrs. Hailey, Director, Devin Waggoner, Rhonda Flood, four years,
Thelma Peterson, Physical Therapist.
Devon's Mother and I
carried the two, literally, back and forth to therapy every day.
At first we had to walk a
distance to get into the therapy facilities over and through the grounds
of the very large hospital. One day I talked Glenda into letting me park
in one of the parking spots reserved for doctors just long enough for us
to run the children into their session. As I was coming out of the
building, the parking guard caught me and informed me not to park in the
doctor's place anymore.
"Fine." "That is fine."
"Tomorrow I'll take the time while the children are at therapy to go sit
in the governor's office." "Maybe he will be interested to know there are
empty spaces reserved for someone who is not there, while Mother's wagging
children with heavy braces cannot park for just minutes in order to take
them into their therapy."
The next day when we drove
through the lot right in front of the therapy door was an empty parking
spot marked "Handicapped." This was in 1963 and I often wonder if this is
how the practice was begun in just such a way.
We did all the things the
doctors told us to do and we can't complain if they didn't know what they
were doing because neither did we. If you look at the picture closely past
the sweetness of the little girl, you can see she is actually leaning to
one side. This is because she had no balance. She never could stand alone.
She is holding to the parallel bars with her right hand only because her
left hand would not work for her. The therapist is holding her arm behind
her back to support Rhonda and this is the only way she could stand even
though the rigid braces were holding her legs. Without balance and with
partial paralysis of both hands there was no way she could support herself
on crutches as Devon is doing. He was paralyzed but his hands and arms
were not. We went on with this for many years until Rhonda fought the
braces with so much determination there wasn't anyone with an ounce of
common sense who would have continued with this hopeless therapy.
Devon's parents were
finally divorced and I lost track of them. They were lovely people and we
had many good times together. Once they came from Oklahoma City to visit
us in Dallas and it was a wonderful time we had.
I, at a distance, saw
Devon's father some years later. He was with a different lady, different
children. It was in a crowd and we were in traffic. It was something of a
happened stance I should have seen him at all.
While we lived at Oklahoma
City Devon and Rhonda played together for endless hours. I had shiny
wooden floors and they would scoot about on them without their braces.
Devon would be hoisting himself along with his arms and shoulders, Rhonda
scooting about on her hands and knees. They played tag while they laughed
and took turns chasing each other. In spite of their disability they were
happy precious children who were much loved.
These were the days before
parents were keeping their handicap children. They were matter of fact
committed to a type of an orphanage rather called an institution. Rhonda
was a beautiful child and although I had great pressure brought on me by
my husband's family I would not bend to their demands. It was in the
library of some of his family where I read about all the problems brought
onto children who were deprived of their parents. These were behavioral
problems to live with them for a life time. These gentle learned men who
wrote of their great knowledge in books made me feel I had a closeness to
them. It was something akin to having their acquaintance. This was even
though I certainly did not actually know them at all.
There is no way I can speak
for how anyone else lived through their heartache. Everyone is different,
facing their problems in whatever way they could. For me I must say my
life was totally changed. Gone was any desire to compete for position or
career. I don't know what it was in me. There was just a total reversal in
my thinking. If I had been impetuous now, I was plodding. My impatient
person became one of determined self-control with Rhonda. I worked at what
had to be done but with no need to enjoy the fruits of my labor.
If there was a passion it
was for my art. Strength and youth allowed me to work into the nights with
that. If I had felt a communion with the medical doctors in their writings
I now too felt a strange kinship with the old masters as I laborious
copied their work in order to learn from it.
When I look back I am so
sorry for the hardships of a disability on my beautiful daughter, but on
the other hand, out of the sorrow came an opportunity to associate with
truly beautiful people who were strong enough to face up to a disability.
This has given me some very wonderful friendships and family for this I am
so very grateful.