A Trojan Horse Filled With
Rod's class picnic at the
end of the year was held at Boomer lake, a place I had never visited.
There was a large covered deck built out over the water. This heavy
platform let us walk across it with no movement of the floor which was
directly over the water. At one end of the space a juke box filled with
the latest dance music caused the area to all at once be of interest.
The rails around this porch like place allowed a person to be able to
look down into the red, sienna colored, water which had run off the red
clay soil during the spring rains. That hue was so strong the waters
looked to be mud moving and rippling. Benches lined the outer edges and
there was plenty of room for seating the folks who were onlookers for
the dancers on the floor. I was reminded of the happy times at Flaming
Arrow in highschool at Chilocco Boarding School where we danced away our
cares every evening.
My husband was relaxed
and seemed well acquainted with everyone. The men and their wives were
on a first name basis with each other and I felt a little hurt and left
out when it was made apparent the group had been socializing for the
entire year. This was the first suggestion in our married life that
there was to be a separation like this and it was the beginning of
having to deal with this arrangement. Apparently it was for this reason
Rod has spent most of his time away, rather than studying at home. I
remained aloof, staying apart, and did not make any attempt to get to
know anyone. I had been slighted and It was a little late in the year to
become friends as far as I was concerned. Maybe the joy of association
might have relieved some of the heaviness of grief over my child's
injuries but apparently these people had little interest in my struggles
at home, in fact weren’t even aware of what I was suffering. This was
almost fifty years ago and just the beginning of my realization the
majority of people would be largely uninterested in the pain of a
disabled person or of the people caring for that person.
From that experience I
made up my mind, no matter what, I would put on a smile, a happy face,
totally ignoring anything to stand in the way of what was a Trojan horse
filled with divided unity. I didn’t even realize then that I would never
fit into Rodney’s world and he would find it difficult to accept mine,
although he valiantly tried. Race, religion, the rancher’s culture,
beside Rodney’s oil field family’s unbreakable determination to stay to
the accepted practice of putting children like Rhonda away, too, gave us
a separation in many ways but instead of creating a barrier this seemed
to simply stimulate my will to work through all of it. In a happy
positive way I would count the trials as a challenge.
Rod had made a decision,
alone, in his usual way, to look for work in Oklahoma City. This too,
would become a pattern. All that was left, in Stillwater, was for us to
clean up a few small debts, say goodbye to friends of my faith, and to
his Uncle's family. After all, they had been my friends and confidants.
His aunt took me in and
treated me as well as one of her own daughters. She seemed genuinely
proud to do that. Mary Jane had her master's degree in Home Economics
and taught at the college. She was a well-spring of virtual knowledge as
far as running their business, sewing wardrobes for her own college
girls, running a small café for their sales lot, and was just generally
managing any of the work and services about the town. The woman’s father
who was a banker taught her well.
The two girls were in
college and were busy with their lives. Mary Jane was left to pick up
the work at the cattle sales lot. I learned a lot from this woman, Mary
Jane Selph Flood. I enjoyed the stories she told about her own family.
Her father was a banker and his father had been a doctor who was
"engaged" in treating some of the early day outlaws who hid out in his
small town close to Stillwater. These rogues simply made payment for the
fixing of their gunshot wounds with a sack of money left on the table.
The doctor would not and, in fact, could not ask any questions. The
matter of protecting his patients and family had to remain uppermost.
Mary Jane's husband,
Ross, Rod’s uncle, suffered a heart attack that year and I remember the
day she came by the house to tell me. It was the first time she showed
anything that was close to worry. After she stayed a while to play with
the baby, Mary Jane stood up with a quick movement as always so she
could go on about her business. Her usual personality, that of a
positive, bright, attitude prevailed. We remained friends for all the
years and I called her on occasion to visit even after we moved back to
Ponca City. She and her husband, Ross, moved away from the sales lot as
they aged and built a beautiful home in Stillwater where they lived.
"My friends told me how
you have paid off your small debts here," Mary Jane smiled to me as she
went out my door for the last time.
"I'm proud of you," she