My determination was to
be that of an artist painting a masterpiece as far as the work to do for
my family. One segment of the canvas might get completed but another
concentration must go to an unfinished area. Rhonda picked up each color
of that work and proceeded on her own. Her still body she had to push
while her stiff hands and legs seemed to have a will of their own.
"Today my body is not
being very nice," sometimes she would comment and then shake her head
with an attitude
to tell she wasnt going
to give in to the thought of not being able to go through her routine.
"Missy!" She now spoke to
one of her cousins who was visiting us for the day. "You go get in the
shower. Look at you! Shoeey! You have a definite odor, too. Ill put
your clothes in the washer while you are showering. By the time you
finish they will be in the dryer. Put my robe on when you get out."
Something about Rhondas
definite orders didnt leave an opportunity for the little girl to
rebel. Rhondas speech was not clear but it was strange how well the
children understood her when often, adults could not.
"Listen, little girl,"
she was still chastising her charge as she dried the little ones hair
with a towel. "If I can drag this body into the shower, there is
absolutely no reason you cannot do the same. Theres nothing to make you
feel any better than being clean."
The little girl smiled in
an endearing way up toward Rhonda as her aunt now combed golden strands
of hair that framed her delicate face and skin. She looked like a little
angel, and a clean angel at that.
More than one time in my
life did I have to return to the words of the mother I met in Dallas who
was raising her blind, cerebral palsied daughter.
"I cannot allow myself
the self indulgence of grief. I must remain strong for Kathleens sake."
The courage and bravery of such a person who had no feeble attitude
about her in any way remained a motto to me for my own position.
There were times when I
watched the rigid, spastic arms and hands of my daughter while she had
to struggle to perform even the most simple of tasks for an instant I
wanted to crumble in like manner.
"What a fool I am not to
appreciate the beauty of seeing her care for this motherless child
before her." And then, steeling myself to ignore the impossible and to
revel in the potential I shook myself away from hopelessness.
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