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Some Kids I Have Known
Thanksgiving for Two on the Rez, 2004

      Jordan was in a wheelchair at this time and he had pulled it up to the window where he could see the comings and goings of the folks who zipped past in their shiny new cars. He enjoyed watching them as they went to and from their jobs on this,  the old Native American reservation. Gone were the days of whispering flutes and soft drum beat and replacing this was the low rumble of these expensive automobiles. He had been in a wheelchair since he was a child so this was as much a part of his life as someone else's legs were their means of getting around. He wasn't bothered by his position due to his challenges with mobility.

      Occasionally, during pow-wow he would see someone come into the campground who was driving a van equipped with stirring wheel making it possible for that person whose legs were paralyzed to be able to drive with the modifications there on the wheel.  Once he watched the person swing out of the driver's seat into a wheelchair, open the van doors, and exit via the ramp. There was a bit of a tug at his masculinity as he longed for the ability to be so free and independent. However, the years of having to deal with his situation made him immediately put any thoughts of self pity away from himself.

       Of course, no matter how strong a person can become in order to deal with life there still can be times when a slipping into a melancholy moment will threaten. At these times Jordon simply redirected his energies to something of a more constructive activity. On his mind now was the call he had just received from his daughter. She was in a boarding school and wanted to come home to visit her father on Thanksgiving Day. He was going over her conversation in his mind.

      “Dad,” she had implored, “please can't you find someone to come get me. Everyone here has gone home for the holiday and I'm lonely. I want to spend time with you, Thanksgiving?”

       He had not begged off or complained of his situation to her. She was just a child, he felt. Children have a way of looking to their parents as heroes, who can do anything, even those who are in wheelchairs.

       Jordon gazed out the window into what was a dreary,  rain soaked day. The wheels on the cars as they sped by whirred over the wet black top road sounding like small giants with a belly ache, he thought. In his mind he was deciding upon a plan of action. There were no sidewalks along the curved stretch of black top road. Great expense had been made to put roads out to the Indian cemetery but there were no wide sidewalks for wheelchairs. Only recently had a operator of the bingo hall seen to it a ramp was installed on the side of that building.

      He made a call to the tribal building which was almost a mile away asking if they could allow him some money to bring his daughter home.

      “You will have to come get it.”  The voice over the phone held no interest for his abilities or disabilities.

      Without hesitation the father,  who loved his daughter enough to brave the little giants with belly aches, the slick, rain-soaked,  road, and the uncomfortable chill upon the air made his trek toward the tribal building not at all pleasant.  His chair whipped along with only a petite squishing of rain from under its wheels. When he entered the tribal building he brushed past the artist who was painting a mural on the walls. Gossip told, the man was receiving 18,000.00 for that work but Jordan's attitude was one of non-concern.

      “We can only help you with ten dollars,”  the woman at the desk told him.

      Jordan said nothing and kept his countenance bland as the woman ripped off the check from the thick book full of them.

      When he handed the money to his friend who had volunteered to go after his daughter the man looked at the check, folded it and handed it back.

       “Why don't you just take this to them, apparently they need it more than we do. I'll take care of any expenses involved.”

       Jordan and his daughter did spend the day together. If it was a respite stolen from the great hand above who dictates and manages time but they didn't complain. The warmth of the little apartment was home enough for both of them. Whatever trials the days ahead held for the two was not important. Today was real and it was a brief haven for them. For this they gave thanks.

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