Rhonda Was Giving
Instructions, Quickly and Thoroughly
This was the first
morning of living in our new house. I looked out the front windows and
all along the Arkansas River there was a smoky mist coming off the river
all the way out to the Kaw Dam. It was a beautiful sight. No more were
we closed in on all sides with neighbors. An actual landscape could be
enjoyed. This part of living in our new home promised to be an unending
pleasure. The kids were up and going about their Saturday routine.
"Mark, Mrs. B. called and
said she wants her yard raked." I was the message taker for him now,
"Mom, I donít want to
rake her yard." This was unusual. Mark never turned down a job and Mrs.
B lived in the part of town close to E.Wís mansion. She could afford to
pay him well.
"Why not?" I was curious
He held up his hand and
measured the length of a leaf with forefinger and thumb.
"If one little leaf falls
on her yard I have to rake the whole thing over again." Mark was
"Hmm." I thought to
myself. "Somethingís going on here, maybe I had better go with him this
morning. Out loud I spoke.
"Mark, Iíll take Rhonda
and Kay by Gramma Joneses so they can stay there with her while I go
with you. I think we might be missing something that Mrs. B. wants
We loaded the wheelchair
into the trunk of the car. I had snacks for them and we were off.
Motherís house was a
meeting place where one or another dropped in at all times. Mother was
never the possessive one and she always maintained a place where anyone
of the family could walk through or stay.
This morning my sister
brought her grandchild to leave with a girl who was to be there while
she did her grocery shopping. Her grandchild was on a monitor while she
was asleep. It would go off with a bright red light and loud beeping
noise if the little one stopped breathing as some S.I.Dís babies will
do. Sudden Infant Death syndrome was a frightening condition and my
sister and her daughter were suffering through that while the daughter
was working full time, as well. Taking the baby to the grocery store
wasnít possible. She knew people were there to watch the machine and the
"I have to take Mark to
his lawn mowing job, Sharon. Can you keep an eye on Kay? Rhonda will
help you watch them, too."
The girl always had been
dependable so I was sure she was okay with the children.
"Sure! They will be
fine." She assured me.
After we left Sharon took
the trash out the back door to the alley and was visiting with a
neighbor over the fence. This left Rhonda and Kay in the house alone
with the baby. Kay was only about four years old at this time. Rhonda
Without warning the alarm
was going off. A loud bell accompanied by the flashing of a red light
left no doubt the baby was slipping away in death.
Oh my! Oh my! Kay, you
must get Sharon to come take care of the baby." Rhonda was instantly in
charge. If she had not been so paralyzed it would have been nothing for
her to wake the little girl.
Kay ran to the fence
where Sharon was visiting and there was no way she could make her
understand about the alarm. Sharon was so engrossed in her conversation
she completely ignored the four year old. Kay ran back into the house to
tell Rhonda she couldnít get Sharon to come help.
"You must wake her,"
Rhonda was directing the child to save a child. "Let her sit up on the
bed, but donít try to pick her up, you might drop her."
Little Kay dutifully
obeyed and raised the child to a sitting position only to have the baby
fall back over in what was looking to be an eternal sleep.
"Keep trying to wake her.
Ruffle her hair, try to sit her up again, rub her back, pat her legs."
Rhonda was giving instructions, quickly and thoroughly. Her crippled
body and hands would not allow her to save the baby but her mind was
sharp and alert to direct her little sister for this task. Kayís hands
were almost to little to bring the baby back but the determination
through Rhondaís directions kept her working with little girl.
As Kay kept trying to
wake the baby, it finally lifted sleepy eye lids and smiled to her
"Theyíre not getting
you." Kay spoke to the baby as she hugged her and no one ever asked who
she meant when she said, "they."
Every moment spent with
Rhonda in therapy, every tear shed, all the hardships were erased in
this one act of kindness with which she had gifted the family. Rhondaís
telling of the happening was enough to make us all shudder with the
realization of what could have been. This was only the beginning of
Rhonda's contributions. Over the years too many near tragedies were
avoided from her close watchfulness, too many to be remembered or
recorded, There were my brotherís three little girls, Sisterís children
and then grandchildren, two other brothers children and little ones we
took in for baby sitting. The list goes on and on.