The children did not seem
to see our child’s wheelchair. They only knew that she was their age and
loved to play. Rhonda’s beautiful sweet-smile, and gentle ways made her
a good playmate. It did not take kids but a short time to see past the
fact that she couldn’t walk. Her loving personality had a quality to
draw people to her. The three children living in an apartment across the
courtyard from our little girl took it upon themselves to become her
The three little ones
played together in a location where Rhonda had to stay because she
couldn’t walk and run like they could. It was like her visitors had some
arrangement among them. They all three played with her. Then, suddenly,
two of them would run off together in a whirl around the courtyard,
while leaving one with her. This was the way they spent their day. Never
was there ever any quarrel or a disagreement.
The children visiting
Rhonda had a mother who was a hard worker, by necessity, because she was
divorced. This caring mother had hired a live-in, baby sitter. The girl
taking care of her children was kind. She kept them bathed, fed, and was
ever watchful without imposing on the children's space. The way she
dressed them gave the children a neat appearance. Never was the little
girl's hair out of place or uncombed. The little boy, "Shorty," could
have been a model. He was so healthy looking with a haircut combed to
the neatest of places. The clothing he wore, even if it was, a T-shirt,
was always pressed with a sharp line going down the side of it. His
winning, wide, smiles won anyone's heart in an instant. He was only two
and a half years but seemed older and most grown up.
While our family was
having guests for dinner one evening, Shorty walked up to the sliding
glass door outside the dining room. He stood there grinning. As we were
admiring "that cute little boy," he reached over, slid the door open and
with a bigger grin, said, "Do you see me?"
Indeed we had seen him,
but his awareness of our approval gave him the opportunity to let them
know he was willing to be noticed. His honest comment gave the adults a
"Have you noticed how
well behaved those children are?" Our mother, who was company, asked
"Well, yes, they are."
"They sure play well together." Rhonda’s grandfather was impressed.
Days turned into weeks
and weeks into months with the friendly little group playing like this.
They made up games. One of them saved a big box into which they cut a
window. The children would pick wild flowers, put them in plastic lid
containers and this was set beside the box like outdoor pots of flowers
to decorate. These bright kids made plates from lids, and silverware
from sticks for their imaginary table. Of course, Shorty was always the
"Daddy," while the little girls took turns being the "Mommy," or the
"kid." They prepared whole meals by pretending. The Mommy would
sometimes take an old scarf, tie it around her waist and she was ready
to go off to work. Probably, the scarf in the child's mind was to mimic
the apron their waitress mother wore as she went out the door on her way
to her job.
The children's mother was
hardly ever seen. She went to work early, came home tired, took care of
the children, and spent every moment with them until their bedtime. She
had no time to associate with her neighbors or to get acquainted. If she
did did take a moment to speak or ask a small favor it was always just
on her way to work, or maybe coming from work. She seldom asked for
help, but occasionally, something would need attention and she might
make a brief appearance. Marty was her name and she worked hard to make
good tips. After the children went to bed the tired woman would be
sitting at the table sorting and wrapping the coins in order to add the
money up and to deposit it in the bank. She worked at a very high class
restaurant, so it was common for her to bring in ninety dollars a night,
just in tips, not including her wages. This was very good money in the
Not too long before we
were planning to move into our own home there came to be an opportunity
for meeting the children's father. The reason for his appearance was
because he was taking them home with him for a couple of weeks so they
could have time with him..
He was a very quiet man,
small in stature. His slow thoughtful looks made him a serious looking
person. He came to our sliding glass door and stood waiting for me to
answer the door, much like his son, Shorty, would do.
"Mam, I just wanted to
thank you for the kindness you have shown to my children." "The baby
sitter tells me how well they have played with your daughter."
"I really think it is I
who should be thanking you for these beautiful children. My husband and
I have been so impressed with how well they behave. They have been so
gracious and loving with our little daughter."
"Oh yes. They are good
kids." The gentle man quietly commented and seemed truly proud of his
"Their mother and I
aren't together, but we try to get along as well as possible so the
children don't suffer, unduly."
"Well, I can tell you
they are certainly blessed with good care. Their mother works hard to
see they have what they need and these three don't seem to suffer any at
all from anything."
"I'm glad to hear that."
The man looked pleased as he turned to go. When he turned his body away
from me, I could see he held a withered, twisted arm he held close to
his body. Whatever had caused the arm to be like it was, an injury or
birth defect, I will never know. After the children left, we too, moved
to another location in the giant city of Dallas and never saw the
children or their parents again.
The very short moments we
had with the man, who was their father, gave me an understanding for why
the children were so well mannered. There was grace and dignity in his
world and it was carried over to the children. That happened close to
fifty years ago. Today, Terry would be Rhonda’s age, around fifty. Mary
Ann would be forty-eight, and Shorty about forty-five. Rhonda and I have
never forgotten the children and their goodness, even though, that was
so many years ago.