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Upon Their Hands They Will Carry you
Page 48

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 Bronx area.

"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 living conditions.

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 morning hours.

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 attractive

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 his cane.

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 way did.

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 world.

"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 my question.

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 finished..

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 hope .

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?

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