Monday, September 19, 2011

Kindness and Faith

Dad began a long series of tests and hospital stays. Before open visiting hours, when hospitals were not businesses, we were limited when we could see him. My mother depended on rides. Like the first day, Rev. Hatch drove her to the Farrell hospital. By the next day, Beverly Tomer volunteered to take me in the evening to see my dad. Mom must have stayed, because it was just me with Beverly. With closed visiting, an age limit was strictly enforced at age 14. I was 11, but looked 14. Poor Beverly had to lie, it shocked her in a way, although I think she knew that would have to happen. The lady in the coral jacket asked her if I was 14. "Oh, yes!" she breathed out. But only two were allowed in the room, so Bev stayed in the lobby.
I entered the small elevator, pushing the button to the floor. Not too hard as Farrell is a small hospital, only two floors. I found the room and rushed at my dad. I don't remember seeing him sick before in a hospital bed. Dad always managed to have the biggest smile for me. Mom looked worried and exhausted. Life changed in that instant when the man rear ended our car.
With all those restrictions, I never really had been on a hospital floor before. It smelled sterile, or like betadine.  When my mom had her gallbladder out, I was seven. I stood on State St of Sharon and waved at a pink form in the window. She had a room on the street side. Later the scene reminded me of Yours, Mine and Ours when all those kids wave at their new sibling. Only I had no new sibling, just a bottle of gall stones that hung around in the china closet for years.
I think the nurses got to know me. Mom knew some of the supervisors. Norma Bobby was her first cousin on her dad's side, his oldest sister, Edith. Sue was Sara Grundy's sister.
One of the diagnosis for my dad was whiplashed. He spent some time in Cleveland Clinic, months at St. Elizabeth's in Youngstown, OH.
Because of my age, I spent days at Marge and Weed Williams farm. Kathleen baked biscuits from scratch. I told Mom  the food tastes better in the country. Marge taught me how to ride her horse, Dusty. I had such freedom again on a horse, singing through their orchard.
Danny stationed in Quantico, VA, carpooled home every weekend. I'm sure a young Jody, a high school senior, proved to be an attraction as well. Jody waitressed at different restaurants, Perkins, A&W, until the weather changed to cold. If Gerri Lee came home for the weekend, we managed to have dinner at Perkins at Jody's table.
Dad, Mom and I ate our Thanksgiving dinner that year as a family in the solar room on the second floor of Farrell hospital. The food lived up to be hospital food, but we were together. We dressed up as always for dinner, Dad in a new housecoat. Uncle Dale(or someone from that family) picked Mom and I up to have a later meal at his house. Uncle Dale cooked and made the best pecan pie. Grandma must have been there, too. Uncle Dale perceived my idea of the best part of Thanksgiving is the leftovers, especially turkey, as we left, he handed me a baggie of turkey meat.
Sara Grundy drove us to St.Elizabeth's in the  spring. She didn't drive over I-80, but took OH 304.
One time I hadn't seen Dad for awhile. I sat on his bed. Actually, I think I was already in seventh grade, near 13 or already turned 13. I sat on the bed beside him and he told me I was beautiful, he'd date me if he was younger. The implied being if he were not my dad. He proudly loved his children, letting us know.
I know there were so many people who helped, were willing to drive us, sent cards, kept on an eye on me. What a wonderful time, even with the suffering. 
And faith. I remember reading James about how the elders were to pray over a ill person. Dad was home, in his traction set up in his bedroom, cheeks looking like a chipmunk's as I read the passage. I cried, praying a prayer of faith, knowing he was going to be healed from this.
As I said this changed our lives. Dad used up his sick time and we waited a year before he could retire from Sharon Steel. Danny paid our bills. We lived on food stamps. Yet somehow in this time, the house was paid off. We celebrated by putting a jewel Mom bought years ago at James Buchanan's home Wheatland in Lancaster on one of our many marvelous trips, in our newel post. The jewel represented a house with no more mortgage.
On one trip to Pittsburgh with a medical purpose, I believe to the VA, Dad managed to let us shop in  Gimbel's. We couldn't buy much, not like years before. Mom did want me to get Earth shoes, but that was it that day. I never complained, but missed getting new clothes. My cousin, Carol, in her first year after high school and living on her own, shrunk clothes. She gave them to me, which was so great, since I loved her style. God answered a prayer, I didn't even think to pray.
The director of the Children's Aid Society, knowing my parents' character, chose Dad, retired from Sharon Steel, and Mom to be house parents in 1975.
We missed Dad's second 13 week vacation, when we were going to go to England. Dad missed my joining the church due to his being in the hospital. I waited till December to get my ears pierced the year I turned 13.Then I think of all the things we would have missed otherwise had that man had not hit my dad, with no insurance. I didn't learn bitterness, but thankfulness, due to kindness and faith.
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