An Oak Coffee Table and
The doctor and I, like in
the old song, Nature Boy, by Nat King Cole, spoke of many things, fools
and kings as we waited for our children who were taking part in a play
There was the sadness in
his soul and I saw that same look out of Rodneyís eyes, too. The
conversation always came back to what decisions we had to make for our
"You know, If I didnít
have my practice here I would pick up and go to Dallas. I believe the
Dallas Society for Crippled Children is doing a better job as far as
therapy goes. Dallas also has a school for the handicapped called
Carroll. It is a place where a child can attend during the day just like
regular school. They have buses to pick the children up from all over
the city but you must live in Dallas proper, they tell me."
I dutifully wrote the
names and addresses down and stuck them away for safe keeping.
Some years later I read
in the paper a doctor in Oklahoma City had committed suicide and tried
to kill his handicapped child at the same time. He died but the child
lived. I often wondered if it was the same doctor with whom I had shared
time in the waiting room. It bothered me that I had not tried to offer
help to him with his little girl but, on the other hand, he didnít ask
for anything and I didnít want to push in on his space and busy schedule
if he didnít need me.
These are the scars left
on our hearts that will forever be with us. That was close to fifty
years ago, but I still remember the look in his eyes and the hurt that
seemed to rest on his shoulders.
On this particular
morning I was very depressed over the conditions at the hospital. We
seemed to have reached a plateau with Rhondaís progress and, as usual, I
was thinking about the approaching time when she would need to start
National events played a
part in what happened as far as our resolve to move to Dallas. Rodney
had been working for The Federal Aviation Agency. He came home and was
uncharacteristically in an excited state of mind.
"Something bad is going
on and I donít know what it is. There were secret service people all
over the place. Planes are being made ready for them to move out. Have
you heard anything?" He was looking intently at me because Iím sure my
face and eyes were swollen from crying.
"President Kennedy has
been shot. Its been on the television. A terrible, terrible thing." For
once I didnít mind having the television going all evening as we watched
together what would become recorded history. The nation was shocked into
a paralyzed state and the future was to tell of a loss of innocence for
that age. The people we knew in Oklahoma City were quite shocked by the
death of this youthful president. I never bothered that much about
politics but the horror of this made me feel so sad for his youthful
widow and his childrenís loss.
Maybe the events struck a
note with Rodney, too, because it wasnít long after that he came home
with the news he had a job interview in Dallas with Texas Instruments
and wanted to know if I would like to go with him for a three day
I had been to Ft. Worth
but that was all. As we drove down the wide interstate into the
magnificent city of Dallas I fell in love with this metropolis. Whatever
Rodney decided job wise was okay with me as far as Dallas was concerned.
When he got the job we sold the few things we had collected all but
Grammaís oak table. This we took to Mom and Dad for safe keeping, all we
had were the clothes on our back and, of course, our vehicle.
"Are you sure you want to
leave that here?" Mother looked from the lovely old table to me. "You
know how many people we always have going through here. I canít promise
anything as far as people setting glasses or coffee cups on it."
"Oh you caní t hurt it,
Iíve discovered. Kids with watercolors havenít bothered the surface, nor
have we been careful about any
coffee cups or drinks
either. The wood is Oak and its finish and nothing seems to penetrate
the finish." Mother looked away from the table with an acceptance of
what I said.
Only in the year 2011 of
the many children Rhonda tutored around the old table was their only one
to make an impression on it and that was by Rhondaís sisterís son.
Rhonda helped me home
school her sister, the boyís mother, around the table and they worked
through her lessons. Her sister would have been thoroughly upset to see
what her son had done to the top so we quietly sanded it down and
brushed it with a sealer to restore the original finish. Now her great
nephews and nieces all gather there to follow her directions on one
project after another from Bible stories to play dough.
On our way to Dallas back
then we brushed possessions away from us, except for the oak table and
moved on to Dallas. Because we knew nothing about the city, our first
rented apartment was at Oak Cliff. The small apartment was fully
furnished. There as a water cooler for controlling the heat. The
apartment was closer to Rhondaís therapy and the reason we chose that
location. Good things and not so pleasant things were ahead for us to
learn about Oak Cliff. Years later the Oak table once again graced our
living room in Oklahoma.
My saving the addresses
given to me by the doctor came in very handy. I did call to tell him we
were in Dallas and he said I could mention his name as the person who
referred us to them.
"I had to leave, you
know," I told the doctor. "An awful confrontation with the doctor who
was so emotionally involved because of his own child he
institutionalized finally happened."
"Put this child in an
institution and forget you ever had her," He told me.
No one advised me of the
manís own sad circumstance. I should have guessed by the way he spoke to
me with his head down in his hands. It was as if he wanted to bury
himself from any further discussion.
"By the laws of Jehovah I
will not do that," I all but yelled at him and walked out in tears. All
the doctors sided with him because they knew of his despair. Rodney held
me close in his arms as I stumbled away from that place for the last
On the telephone was the
last time I ever spoke with the one doctor who gave me understanding, a
short friendship, and a solution.