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Upon Their Hands They Will Carry you
Page 2


Light filtered through leaves of the large old trees before it fell onto the floor of the hospital room and this flicker of dark and light was what woke me. Birds were singing in loud and deliberate chorus. Everything from Robins, Blue Jays, Mockingbirds, and even a Wren chortled, almost laughingly with lovely song. It was, after all, August 24, 1959, summertime. There was no air-conditioning then but the heavy stone building made the room comfortably pleasant. A bustling about of nurses and staff as they went to their duties reminded me of when I was working in the hospital at Chilocco Indian School.

There was the remembrance of the doctor's talk the night before even though the drugs made it more like a dream than reality. The peacefulness of this world held no evidence of the horror of the last two days and in this bright light it was as if nothing at all had happened.

"Did the doctor come in here last night or did I just dream that?" The girl in the next bed held my middle name, Colleen. She was of my tribe, Ponca, and I felt a kinship to her so much so that I trusted her to be honest. Her maiden name, Collins, was the same as my Grandmother Bell’s name.

"Yes, he did," she replied and then Colleen, the young woman, looked down at her hands. Somehow, the gesture alone was telling the girl's sadness and this confirmed what was said in the eerie darkness of the shadows of this place. Everything now was bright and pleasant where surely there just couldn’t have been something so black and full of despair the night before.

Voiceless weeping bound my body like the unsavory weak shreds and wrappings of a mummy. There was no tearing away from it. I was dead to what had been the joy of youth only a couple days ago. My wracking sobs were stifled but couldn't be stopped. Soon I learned how grief can be hidden from the world but not at this time. I was a stranger to this kind of tragedy and anything this base only happened to animals, I believed. The tears wouldn’t stop and without sound my sobbing continued.

Colleen must have alerted the nurses because they were all at once beside me. The nurse who was the one to keep calling for assistance from a doctor stood at my bed, again. She was of the Otoe tribe and, maybe, a kindness given to her niece while we were in school at Chilocco gave her the need to want to protect me. No discrimination existed among the Native people. Most of them had children of mixed blood and they accepted such things.

Their nursing skills were only an addition to an inborn need to fight the demons of pain and injury.

It was doubtful Mother had been called because she couldn't have arrived from Ponca City in such a short time. The scene she walked in on was not what the woman wanted to see. Her captain's position at Chilocco had already groomed her many years ago to confront a situation, either to squelch or at least get to the cause and effect of a situation.

This last incident was all Velma needed for bringing down her wrath on the young doctor's head. No one heard what she said, or how she said it, but it must have been vehement enough so that the young man denied he had said anything. She was like a mother lion, no doubt, defending a cub.

Experience comes upon us ever so slowly and even the movements of the giant sloth couldn't be compared to how wisdom begins. This was only the start of a long walk through unfamiliar, dark places. For every weight there is a counter balance and this was what family proved to be. The strength, love and encouragement of each of them acted like a rudder to guide me through the heaviest of storms until my own thinking began to come to the fore.

Rod and I were young, but I was not a veteran like he was. His trip through the terrors of war in Korea as a Marine had hardened him to what was important and what wasn't. He was steady and did not bend to grief. It was his presence to give strength and courage and this is how we started of our own small family.

He came face to face with death over and over on Korean ground in different difficult ways. As is the case with all veterans who wish to speak very little about the atrocities of war, neither did he.

I knew Rod’s eardrums had been damaged from his feeding shells into the big guns. He talked about the cold being as much an enemy as anything. The heavy rubber-like poncho issued so they could keep their uniforms dry was a testament to that. Only once he spoke of the horrors of being on the pick up duty of the dead some of whose bodies had already broken down to a point of decay so that their flesh came off in his hands. He wasn’t ashamed to tell how the contents of his stomach came up suddenly with him heaving until there was nothing more to throw up. It was true his youth and belief in the goodness of humanity had been lost before we were married.

My husband’s little daughter and I were not dead. We were alive. This must have been how he looked at it. If the Flood's held the blood of Vikings there on the Isle of Wight off England's coast, I knew nothing of that at the time. All I saw was how he stepped up with courage and unflinching loyalty to me and his injured child. Had he been trained to master this kind of thing or was it just something in the strength of his genetic make-up? We will have to admit it was probably a bit of both. As carefully as he picked up his dead, decomposing countrymen in Korea he now picked up his little daughter and young wife.

Rhonda was born in 1959 and this was just the beginning when those who were crying and sighing for truth in regards to blood infected with disease, syphilis being one of such. Later the nation would become aware of another great plague and that was A.I.D.S, transmitted by blood transfusion. So as it seems not only was there strength in blood as spoken of in the Vikings there was also weakness. The warnings in our own Christian-Hebrew scriptures were there to tell about using care in handling blood. In ancient days nothing was known about microscopes. All they had was a willingness to be obedient to a Greater Power’s instructions.

With this in mind I had and still have a deep respect for the doctor who stayed with me and was obedient not only to his oath as a healer but to the calling of a Greater Intelligence who has, no doubt, already recorded this act for His own memory with a high regard for kindness shown to me. A greater reward is in store and will be given to a mortal, who seeks immortality as we all do.


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