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Upon Their Hands They Will Carry you
Page 53


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, too.

"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 about this.

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 exasperated.

"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 done."

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 baby.

"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 was twenty.

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 cousin.

"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.


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