The Bronx, New York City
I was searching, always
searching for something to find a way to overcome Rhondaís condition.
There was in my deepest desire for anything to make her more
comfortable. Early on, one doctor had advised drugs. To me this was just
giving in to the hopeless and finality of accepting there was nothing to
help people with Cerebral Palsy.
A short article I read
about a doctor in New York City told he was doing wonderful things with
the disabled. My family, the whole family, was devastated by what was
happening to Rhonda. If only but a ray of hope surely we had to try.
When I asked Mother to pay for a trip to New York City for a visit to
this doctor she readily agreed. It was only a trip to investigate and
all that would be involved was the plane tickets. After calling the
spiritual leaders of my faith for a family who might wish to put us up
for several days they gave me the name of the most loving family in the
"Are you sure this is
where you want to go?" The taxi driver was an efficient self appointed
tour guide as he pointed out points of interest, Shay stadium and such.
Here we were, greenhorn tourists from Oklahoma surely there was no
knowledge of what was ahead of us. These must have been his thoughts.
"We will be going into
the Bronx." Rodney told him. "There is a good family there who will put
us up while we visit St. Barnabas Hospital, nearby.
"Well, okay then. For
sure, this is the Bronx." This mature gentleman who drove a Taxi for a
living surely felt he had seen and heard everything this time.
Our benefactors and
owners of a Brownstone apartment house were waiting at the top of tall
apartment house steps. The lady was smiling and friendly as she helped
us into her home. Truthfully, I donít know how we managed all those
steps with Rhonda but, somehow, we did.
This accommodating family
let us have their recently restored basement apartment and it was
without steps but for two or three. They lived in the middle apartment
and another, the top living space, was rented out. These folks place
looked like a little jewel in the midst of what was the most pitiful of
Everywhere, in 1975,
these city blocks looked like a war zone. There were burned out
buildings, fire sirens running all the time and gangs sleeping on the
curbs at night. Hellís Angels had nothing on the street people as they
boldly made their Molotov cocktails on the sidewalks in the early
St. Barnabas hospital was
a Mecca of a stronghold atop a walled cliff in the midst of the Bronx.
The one entrance only allowed a single car to go through and this was
where guards maintained an eternal watch, twenty-four hours a day.
Like a milliners hat on
the head of an aging lady were the grounds. Squirrels frisked about with
no apparent fear of the people there. Landscaped garden like environment
made this look to be someoneís estate. All around was peace and
design to give pleasure
to the visitor. The contrast just off the sidewalks below the tall wall
made a person stop and wonder how something like this happened.
Rhonda was put in a room
with a woman who was obviously near death. No one visited the sad old
woman and she seemed to be quite alone in her demise. The doctors gave
Rhonda a pill that was supposed to do something for her. All it did was
cause her to constantly cry and we didnít dare leave her.
"No more pills!" I told
the nurse who came in with medication the next morning.
An elderly man in the
next room sat gazing at a television with only snow on it. Another was
tied to his bed and when we passed close to him he tried to poke us with
When I fussed and wanted
her out of that room away from such hopelessness they gave her another
with happier surroundings.
"You can go home tonight.
Donít worry we will see after Rhonda." And that is what we in our naive
The next morning Rhonda
told us she could never get anyone to answer her call to help her to the
bathroom. Somehow she got off the tall bed, crawled to the stool and
after quite a struggle was able to get up on the commode. Needless to
say I was more than a little irate.
Preceding this we were
disappointed in the work the doctor was doing. If we had been in the
same league as some of the well heeled people who were visiting, maybe
there would have been a difference.
The doctors told us,
there is no surgery that is without risk and if nothing else the chance
of bleeding and blood loss was possible. There should have been
confidence in this doctor because of the wall behind him being covered
from the ceiling with his credentials. The environment around him
contributed to our feelings of doubt regarding his abilities more so
than the impressive universities on those documents from all over the
"Is this a solution with
the implanting of electrodes in her head so that she forever after would
have to carry a battery on her lap to activate the electrodes?" This was
The week-end came up and
we checked Rhonda out for that. Both of us agreed there was no returning
to what was nothing we wanted for our child. One of the children we met
already had the surgery and frankly, to me, no progress was made. He
couldnít walk, instead of a happy countenance like Rhondaís there was a
wistful sadness about him. This was the only time I could compare myself
to our Savior, Jesus. Like Jesus I, "felt pity for the child."
Unlike Jesus there was
nothing I could do for this helpless little one.
Experience was all that
was gained. Forever after we had a clear conscience with knowing this
road was the long mile and our efforts though unfruitful were completely
If nothing else we
enjoyed the people who took us into their private haven. They were
living in the midst of chaos and squaller but in contrast theirís was
clean where loving parents were teaching sons and daughters there is
God is the one to bring
cleansing of the earth with no more death, pain, or sorrowing. This
belief gave them, and us, optimism for a new way of living to be
accomplished even if it certainly is on a small scale such as this
familyís home, at that present time. This was in the year 1975 There
have been articles to show a reconstruction of the Bronx. Iíve never
been back since that time, so do not know.
The drive from Tulsaís
airport to Ponca City was over wide strips of highway to cut through oak
trees with lovely foliage. Great collections of water in lakes we could
see lapping the shores beside unending spaces of green pastures.
Tremendous clouds shot up into towering thunderheads and it was the
closest thing to paradise I could believe existed.
Donít you love coming
home? I spoke with relief and breathed a deep sigh.
Home? Home? Rhonda and
Mark piped up. Are we almost home?