The day finally came when I went down the road on the motorcycle. Jenny said she looked out the window and watched me leave. She told me a few months later that she never liked “that thing”. The previous autumn right after I got it we took it out for picnics in a cow field or two. It seemed like we had a good time then. When it was gone, a wreck in my parent’s barn, it was the first time I heard her come out and say she never liked that thing.
I packed camping gear in three rigid carrying cases on the motorcycle. There was one on each side of the back wheel, and the third one was over the rear wheel. In them were clothes, a small tent, a cook stove, food, water bottles, and whatever else I needed. There wasn’t enough room in them for a pillow and a sleeping bag. Those things were in a heavy waterproof bag tied on back. A small lockable compartment near the handlebars was where things such as maps, money, a driver’s license, and paper were kept. There were recording tapes in there also. The motorcycle had a remote controlled tape player. When I listened to songs they were about being strange, about riders on the storm, and about how into this house we’re born, into this world we’re thrown.
Down stream from Cincinnati I took a small ferry across the Ohio River. From there I went on Route 8 past Louisville, past the entrance of Fort Knox, back across the Ohio River, and, on practically the same bridge, I went across the Mississippi River into Missouri. After going a few more miles I arrived at the campgrounds beside the Snake River. There were hundreds of motorcycles.
It took all day Friday to get there. I only stopped once by a rock wall along a road in Kentucky. I sat on the wall and made a cup of coffee. I wasn’t dying for the coffee so much as the excuse to make it right there.
At the campground I set up my tent and made supper on the one burner stove I had. There was still daylight. Afterwards I walked the full length of the campgrounds and looked at all the motorcycles. There were some old ones. The only two times I spoke was, first, a conversation I had when I signed in, and, second, with the owner of an old motorcycle. I camped in a place across the road from the registration table where there were no other campers. The motorcycle experience had been one of solitude, and that continued. Saturday morning I awoke after the sun had risen, fired up the stove, made a big breakfast, and went to see the area. I saw the Mississippi River up close for the first time. It was moving very fast.
When my mother’s brother came down there several days later he saw the Mississippi River up close too. In a letter a year or so later he wrote how mighty it was. It was tremendous compared to all else. I got back to camp late in the day, had some dinner, and crawled into the sleeping bag. Sunday, I got up at the crack of dawn. That was the last day for the motorcycle, and almost for me.
Sunday morning I packed the bags, and left. I remember driving onto the paved road, and making a concentrated effort to be careful of the gravel. I don’t remember anything else, or what happened during the next month. My plan was to go north in the state of Missouri, cross the Mississippi River at the first bridge, and go home on the highway. I didn’t get far.
According to the accident report, and what an eye-witness said, at 7:30 a.m. a sixteen year old boy fell asleep while driving home from working the third shift at a pop corn factory. The pick-up truck he was driving went left of center, and hit the motorcycle head-on.
A nurse traveling in the same direction was in the car behind me. She said what happened. It was a straight section of road. The person driving the truck weaved over the centerline several times before he got to me. I was not going very fast when we hit. The motorcycle never went down. On the initial impact the open face helmet I was wearing came off. I was catapulted up in the air. I never impacted with the accident vehicle. By the time I came down both motorcycle and truck had gone past. I landed on the pavement.
The nurse got out of her car and went to where I was. There were broken bones sticking through the skin on my legs. My face was cut from hitting the pavement. Doctors later described one of my problems as a “closed head injury”. Much later my brother told me the nurse told him I was irate because she would not let me go see if the motorcycle was all right.
In Cincinnati the previous Autumn I rode with a motorcycle group who called themselves, “The Over The Hill Gang”. After the accident a few of them went down to Cape Girardeau to get the motorcycle. It was in a junkyard. They took it back to Cincinnati, and put it in a barn at Markin Farm. Five months later, hobbling around on crutches. I stood at an open stall door, and saw that it was beyond repair. I telephoned the man who sold it to me, and told him he could have it if he did the hauling. He was there with a trailer that night. When he saw it he shook his head back and forth. He said he had never seen one that bad where the guy lived. The next time I saw him he told me the only part on that motorcycle he salvaged was the rear mono-shock. Everything else was destroyed.
The odometer said it had 3000 miles. One of the “Over The Hill Gang” members had traveled more than 200,000 miles on a motorcycle. He told me there were two kinds of riders. Those who have had accidents, and those who are going to have accidents. He said most of them were either under eighteen, and didn’t care. Or, they were over 65, and it didn’t make any difference.
My brother talked with the nurse at length about the accident. Months later when I asked him what she was like he said I would like her for all the wrong reasons.
The ambulance would normally be far from the accident scene, but on that day and time it was nearby on another call. In a few minutes it arrived. The boy and me were taken to the hospital. I don’t know if I was conscious or unconscious.
When we got to the hospital emergency room a doctor recognized stitches in the boys head. He put them there a week earlier, only then when the boy fell asleep the car he was driving went across the road into the woods. I was what a nurse back in a Cincinnati hospital would term “a mess”.
I broke more than twenty bones. The number varied depending on who was asked, but no one said less than twenty. In the same way I was told the number of medications I was taking in the Cape Girardeau hospital exceeded twenty. No wonder I was delirious. Jenny wrote down what the doctors said and the few things I said.
Like a person of the “nations” I was immediately hooked up to a blood supply.
That day a doctor telephoned Jenny to say what happened, and what he needed to do. I was like Humpty Dumpty in the children’s story. It says, “Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall. Humpty Dumpty had a great fall. All the king’s horses, and all the king’s men couldn’t put Humpty Dumpty back together again.”
In Cincinnati long after the accident a friend told Jenny that when she was sitting beside an orthopedic surgeon on the bleachers she said to him, “Remember the x-rays of that guy who you said would never walk again? Well there he is”, and she pointed across the soccer field to where I was walking to retrieve a child.
She was not the sort of person who readily accepted something that was not explainable in a scientific manner. Months earlier at a gathering of people where she was I asked her how her certification to be a schoolteacher was going. She said she was learning about evolution. I asked her what about the possibility of everything being created by a supreme being? She said she rather believe what could be proved, and she went away to talk with someone else. So who did put Humpty Dumpty back together again, and more importantly, why?
There were two doctors who kept track of my progress. One of them did a second operation to re-construct my hip. After the operation he told Jenny the next seventy-two hours would be the most critical, and during that time I went into a coma. Somewhere along the line I also had a stroke caused by all the broken bones. Jenny needed comic relief. During the first few days the only one she talked to for any amount of time was the doctor. She joked with him, and on Friday in the course of conversation she asked him, “When is Jocko coming out of his coma?” In his reply he named a certain person who at the time was the Vice President of the United States, and who went to college with the doctor at Vanderbilt University. The doctor said, “When ___ _____ is President.” That weekend it was reported in the news the Vice President was President for twenty minutes while the President underwent surgery. I came out of my coma the same day. On Monday Jenny questioned the doctor, and she said he said like he was scared that he wasn’t going to say that anymore.
In the following weeks at different times all of my siblings came to Cape Girardeau. Also during that month a cousin, one aunt, one uncle, Jenny’s father, and a few of her friends came there for a few days. I must have been expected to die. One sister was convinced I tried to kill myself. Jenny was there the whole month. Our three children were with her parents in Cincinnati. The weekend of my accident my parents left Markin Farm to live permanently in Maine. That might seem like strange behavior, but as always they were extremely pragmatic, particularly my mother. What could they do at my bedside except gum up the works? What they did do was buy airplane tickets for my three sisters, and one brother.
Jenny said of all the people who went, my brother was the most helpful. It wasn’t anything he said or did; rather it was his being there. He came twice. The first time was right after the accident, and before the second operation. Jenny said he walked up to the bed, lifted the sheet, looked at my black and blue body, put the sheet back down, and said, “At least your d___ is Okay” (He used the proper name Dick which is a slang word referring to the penis).
Without opening my eyes I replied, “Butt out”. Jenny said I mumbled a few things earlier, but that was the first thing I said that was a sign I was mentally all right.
Earlier in the day she wrote down that I told her to put the letter “A” on my forehead. Months later I read for the first time about marks on foreheads. The Bible describes a mark on the forehead of Satan’s people, and God’s people. In Bible times the owner of a slave often put a mark on the forehead of a slave to show whose property it was. At the time I didn’t know anything about the subject of foreheads or marks as they are represented in the Bible. I don’t know why I mumbled those words, but I did.
The whole time I was in that hospital I was in the intensive care unit (ICU). The way Jenny described it to me the beds were in an arch around a nurse, and from where she sat she could monitor the vital signs of each ICU patient. A nurse was there day and night. Each bed was separated from the next one by a curtain. Jenny said there was an “aura” around my bed. She said it wasn’t just her, because one of the nurses said something about it also.
It was reassuring to be told I was heavily medicated, because it explains a poster I saw every day that Jenny says was not there. It showed a soldier wearing a helmet and holding a small dog. I always thought at some point they were going to give me one of those dogs. A month after I got there I was transported by air taxi in a bed to another hospital in Cincinnati. When I left I expected to get a little dog. Also, I thought the hospital was adept in handling trauma victims because there was an army base nearby. Jenny was so polite when she said neither of those things existed. Why I had delusions about the military I don’t know. When I was in the United States Army I never considered then, or anytime afterward, that I was any kind of a military man.
There were people who went out of their way to make Jenny feel comfortable. Traveling from Saint Louis to Cape Girardeau she was on one airplane and then another that had mechanical problems. Both airplanes while speeding down the runway suddenly de-accelerated, turned around, and came back to the terminal. Finally the passengers took a bus. While they were waiting Jenny sat beside two people who were on the two airplanes, but who she had not met. Jenny described the woman as tall. She never described the husband. They had been married a long time, and belonged to a motorcycle group that called themselves the Christian Motorcycle Club. The husband and wife traveled extensively, usually on one motorcycle. Jenny said the woman showed her around the town, and where to get a room at a motel within walking distance of the hospital.
Many mornings when Jenny got to the hospital Christian motorcycle people with leather jackets were already there. They weren’t allowed to go into the ICU. I was hallucinating in there. Jenny saw the tall woman and her husband practically every day, and when there was no family she went to their house for supper. The tall woman gave her a photograph of the motorcycle people standing in a circle. Each one was facing toward the center with their head down. They appeared to be in the woods. Jenny said she was told it was a “prayer circle”, and that the motorcycle gang was praying for me. When I saw the photograph back in Cincinnati, and heard what it was I was amazed, because I never met any of those people.
At home I heard at the church where we clapped hands the preacher during the early morning service asked everyone for a moment of silent prayer as he did every Sunday morning. The Sunday after my accident when he said that, the name “Jocko” reverberated around the congregation in a barely audible way. I knew some of those people by name only. I didn’t know much else about them. They were mostly my parents generation and/or people who got mailboxes.
The Christmas following the accident I was on crutches looking at Christmas trees for sale. Someone I hadn’t seen for a long time, who sold industrial coatings in 50 gallon drums, drove past, stopped, rolled down his window, and with a big smile on his face said how it was good to see me. Then he abruptly said, “I prayed for you.” By then I was well aware there was more going on in this world than modern science although I didn’t know much else. I thought it was nice of him to say what he did. I said to him, “I’m sure every little bit helped.”
At the Cape Girardeau hospital there was an old man who volunteered to work there without pay. He and Jenny became dear friends, and for several years afterward, at least once a year, they wrote back and forth. My aunt met him at the house where he and his wife lived. Jenny said he was a wise man.
The month I was in the Cape Girardeau hospital the Jehovah’s Witness lady in Cincinnati fell. She had to have a hip replacement. Before she went in the hospital she telephoned a congregation of Jehovah’s Witness near Cape Girardeau, and spoke of my situation. Jenny said a Jehovah’s Witness doctor came there, talked to her, and said I was in good hands. It could not be denied that the thoughts and/or prayers of so many people were real.
A doctor in Cincinnati said the doctor there did exceptionally good work. A relative and a few others used the words “miracle” and “miraculous” to describe my recovery.
When Jenny went to settle up with the husband and wife who ran the motel one of them said the bill was already paid. My cousin paid for the whole month.
The first memory I have of that time is leaving Cape Girardeau. There was much discussion near the plane. Jenny said later, the pilot wanted payment. My aunt who was there paid him. He must have wanted to make sure it got in the bank. That would explain why I saw him hand paper to someone who was not going on the airplane.
We flew to a small airport in Cincinnati. Jenny and the pilot sat up front. A nurse and me were in the back. Even with folding wheels on the bed, getting it into the airplane was difficult. It was a tight fit. The airplane had a piston engine on each wing. It must have had radar too. We flew at night in the pouring rain. Jenny said the pilot was flying up, under, and around clouds the whole time. Rainwater was coming through the side window where she sat. The pilot told her to squeeze repeatedly a rubber bulb that would pump air into a space between the glass. She had to do that every few minutes.
I was feeling no pleasure or pain. I could fly if the plane became inoperable. Whether I could have carried passengers is another question. It was a rough ride. The pilot must have been practicing aerobatics. There were many jolts and he made a few evasive maneuvers. The rain stopped when we landed. The tarmac at the Cincinnati airport was shiny and wet.
I went through the entire medical system without paying a dime. When it was over a doctor explained it this way. He said a person (in the United States) would be taken care of in an emergency without consideration for their ability to pay.
I often read and heard how a person would be “stabilized”, but if during that time it was learned the person could not pay then every effort would be made to move them elsewhere. I had no health insurance and no money. During my time in the hospitals no one spoke of money. No one asked if I did or didn’t have money or health insurance. I had neither. But, for five months I received the royal treatment. I don’t know if the State Police cited the boy for a traffic violation. He must have been, because his insurance company paid all the insurance he had which was the State minimum. That, plus the under-insured motorist protection I had on the motorcycle, totaled half of all the medical bills. A year later a Federal judge determined those who wanted money would get fifty cents on the dollar.
I don’t remember ever seeing the boy. If I were dead I wouldn’t say the accident helped me, but it did. Years later when people asked if I was fully recovered I’d say, “I am not sure I want to be fully recovered. My wife says I am a nicer person now than before.” I was made aware of “the more important things”. The authorities determined whose fault it was. That was their concern. Even though I remember something about transferring from the airplane to the ambulance I don’t remember being wheeled into the Cincinnati hospital where I spent the next three months. I was put in the ICU on the eighth floor for several days. After that I was moved down to the rehabilitation floor where I learned to walk with crutches, and talk. There were three parts to the rehabilitation process. They were physical therapy, speech therapy, and occupational therapy.
I was in bed most of the time. When I got therapy I was in a wheel chair. I couldn’t transfer from the wheel chair to a toilet. A tube was clamped to my penis, and it was connected to a bag where my urine was collected. A second tube went through my abdomen into my stomach. It was connected to a plastic bag full of brown colored liquid food. Soon after I started eating solid food I also started having bowel movements. I had to ask a nurse for a “bed pan”. That was a shallow metal container with a toilet seat type design on the open side. She would draw the curtain between the person in the next bed and me. Most of the time it was open. I would roll on my side, the nurse held the bedpan in place, and then I would roll back. When it was positioned correctly she left the room.
The first few times I just did it like throwing up in school. Once in school when we were sitting on the floor all facing the same way learning how long the human intestine was I didn’t say how sick I was until it was obvious. I threw up on another kid’s hand. That period of instruction ended early that day. Everyone but the kid was appreciative. They thought I did it deliberately to avoid the boredom. I felt much better out in the hall. The teacher told me to report to the infirmary. In there I vomited several more times in the proper a receptacle.
The bedpan seemed shallow, but it wasn’t. When I finished the nurse came in and held it again while I rolled onto my side. The hospital gown was around my waist. I could hear her wash it out in an adjoining room where there was a shower, sink, and toilet. Then she returned and proceeded to wipe my rectum. The first time that happened even though I was delirious from all the drugs I was acutely aware of my pitiful condition. I was humiliated. I couldn’t even do that myself. I didn’t cry, but I could have.
When I realized I could not even wipe my own rear end I knew how helpless I was. Months later people on the outside would talk to me about my self-determination, and they would say how wonderful it was. I would try to tell them it wasn’t like that at all. I didn’t tell them I couldn’t even wipe my own rear end, but I did say I was quite a lot like an animal with a ring in it’s nose being led through a field or down a road. I would tell them I did what I was told and there was nothing in me. People heard what I said, but I could see and hear from them that they thought I was being modest and gracious. They wanted to think it was me. It seemed futile for me to keep saying it wasn’t that way at all. I couldn’t bathe myself. Two or three times a nurse with a washbasin and a cloth would draw the curtain and wash my entire body including my crotch. I couldn’t do that either. In the hospital it could be said they were paid to be the way they were, but I don’t know. Several weeks after I got out the main day nurse telephoned. I recognize her voice immediately. She didn’t say who she was and asked; “Do you know who this is?” I asked her about her trip to Hawaii with her children and grandchildren and if she was enjoying her retirement. It was nice that she called. I never learned the names of complex medical procedures, but by the time I left I knew everyone’s first name.
Another nurse who I knew remotely lived in a small town just beyond where I lived. We had talked about that and I told her to visit after I was released. One day on her way home from work she showed up. I was preoccupied with something else, and it must have seemed that way. She said as if to explain herself, “You said I should stop by”. I realized what she was saying, and how time had had its effect, I told her I was glad she did. In a short while she left.
A few months after I got out Jenny’s father invited his children, their husbands, and a few other friends to have a meal on a riverboat parked along the Ohio River in downtown Cincinnati. We were all sitting at a long narrow table. Many other people were there also having a meal. One of them was a nurse from the hospital. She said she saw me before I sat down, and when I did sit down she came over to where I was to say hello. She asked me why I didn’t go to a special party at the hospital. I didn’t tell her I never received an invitation probably because a method of payment to the hospital had not been made. I didn’t want to talk to her about money right there.
I was aware the person two places down from me on the same side of the table had recently been in a treatment center for alcoholics. I knew first hand the way an alcoholic thinks. I said, “I didn’t want to go back there, because I was afraid if I did they wouldn’t let me out.” I could not see the person sitting at the table with me, but the nurse who was standing on the other side of the table could see her directly. When I said that the nurse’s eyes looked over at the other person who must have been visibly reacting. The nurse’s main job was in the ICU on the top floor. A few times she worked on the rehabilitation floor where I was, and we talked. She told me she remembered the night I arrived in the ICU. Her last name was the same as the last name of the city manager of the political subdivision where the farmhouse was. She said she knew him but wasn’t related.
A great kindness came from a boyhood friend who shaved my face two or three times each week when I was in the hospital. I was too weak, uncoordinated, and unable to do it myself. At the time I never thought about it one way or the other. It seemed very ordinary that he do it, but now I realize how exceptional it was.
We grew up together in Cincinnati. For a short while he lived in Monroe County, West Virginia. Quite a few years before my accident he and his wife moved back here to live, work, and raise children. Our routines were different. We seldom saw each other, but that all changed. That Summer he was taking architecture classes at the University of Cincinnati across the street from the hospital. The first time he came, a nurse was shaving my face. After that if I needed a shave and the nurse wasn’t doing it, he would. It was an elaborate process compared to normal shaving. I was propped up in bed; there was plenty of water, and the sheets never got wet. The nurse must have seen what a good job he did, because the rest of the time I was there he was the only one who shaved my face. It became a perfunctory matter for both of us that he arrive and shave my face. Sometimes he was in a hurry looking for this basin or that towel. As time went past the things he needed appeared more and more quickly. Once, midway through my time there the nurse stood at the foot of my bed, and asked if I wanted to see the man who shaved my face. I made an affirmative utterance. She went out, he came in, got the stuff, and proceeded to shave my face. Every other time before or after that no nurse asked if I wanted to see him. Months later it made me think.
He shaved my face because I needed a shave. The nurse asking like that must have thought it was strange. Was it strange to her that a grown man would regularly shave another grown man’s face? It was not his job. He was not my brother, but it could best be described as brotherly love.
I was in a daze most of the time, but apparently not all the time. One day Jenny told me the two people making mailboxes in the Apple Barn wanted to get a third person to make parts. She said one of them told her the time they spent making parts was taking away from the time they could make mailboxes. I said, ” I too once lived in Arcadia.” She came to the hospital every day. Another time she said they wanted more money to paint, and that the hourly rate they got for that work was nothing like what they made welding. A month or two before my accident I taught one of them to paint. Until then I was the only one who could paint. Also a second person learned how to do it while I was in the hospital. I replied to her automatically without any thought or hesitation. I said they should get whatever is greater: the hourly rate or a certain amount of money per mailbox. The amount of money per mailbox was based on how much I would make if I painted at the hourly rate. They must have thought I wasn’t that bad off when they heard that, because that week both of them came to see me in the hospital for the first and only time. Their expression when they saw me said I looked a whole lot different. I felt a whole lot different. Making mailboxes and being concerned about that had become as significant to me as the chirping of birds. I didn’t say that to anyone when I was in the hospital.
A tube in my stomach was connected to a flexible clear plastic bag of brown liquid food. It hung over my head. One afternoon I awoke to the sound of two nurses talking. One of them was working hurriedly beside my bed with the food bag in her hand. I never saw her before or after that time. The other one was watching as if being instructed. That one was a young woman whose first job had been on the eighth floor. The older one emptied some of the content of the bag into a pan, and when she did some of it spilled on the floor. I asked her what she was doing as if I was interested in a new medical procedure. She poured a small amount of red liquid into the bag. Her reply was not typical of that place. She answered as if what ever it was it was inconsequential to me. She said, “What do you care.” I was in a drug-induced stupor most of the time, and the fact was I didn’t care. She never looked at me the whole time, not when I asked that question or when she answered it. When the red colored liquid was added she reconnected the tube and shook it up. The brown became red. She hung the bag on the hook, and as they both left she drew open the curtain. The stoke victim in the bed next to mine was watching television as usual.
The brown liquid on the floor didn’t get wiped up. A week later the sight of it was a surprise to man pushing a mop bucket on wheels. I said to him I leaned over twice last week to see if it had been cleaned up. By that time the food bag was brown again, the same color as what was on the floor. After he wrung out the mop he stood there and looked up and down. In so many words he said he had been mopping floors in that hospital for years, and the stuff on the floor plus the length of time it had been there was not like anything he had seen. He must have reported it to the nurses, because several of them at different times looked where the spill had been. It was a very narrow place between my bed and the curtain. When the curtain was drawn back it covered the place where the spill had been. On the other side of my bed was a table and chair. Any visitors, doctors, and nurses stood there.
The day after the nurse changed the color of the food to red a hospital doctor who saw each rehabilitation patient every morning looked at the bag, and then quickly at the papers in his hand. He didn’t say anything medical. He told me a decent joke and left. The brown liquid food was not made red another time.
Before my accident I went to three or four meetings of Jehovah’s Witnesses. I befriended several people there some of whom came to the hospital. At the meetings in the “Kingdom Hall” (that is what they call the building) I always sat up front by myself. I was there to learn about God, not get in one big ice cream social with the people.
I told a long time friend that I was studying the Bible with Jehovah’s Witnesses, and that I was startled to find many of the customary ideas that are said to be written in that book aren’t there at all. One of them is the popular notion that Christ was executed on two pieces of wood in the shape of a cross. It cannot be proven as fact one way or the other, but the method of execution at that time and place was by hanging a person on an upright piece of wood until they died. Christ died as a common criminal. There wasn’t an abundance of wood in that area and the word indicating an upright piece of wood is translated “cross”. Long before Christ walked on this earth a cross shape was the symbol of another long lost god. A prominent modern day historian wrote, “Christianity didn’t replace paganism, it adopted it.”
When I told my friend about this and that I learned it from the Jehovah’s Witnesses he said, “What are the people like?” At that time before my accident I didn’t want to abandon my past, and although I thought I must be missing something that would explain why he wasn’t as concerned as me, I said, “If all the Jehovah’s Witnesses are going to heaven then I don’t want to go there.”
It is a safe guess that the nurse changed the color of the food bag so the Jehovah’s Witnesses would stay away. The Witnesses were in the habit of, and probably did, stop people in their tracks to talk to them about the Bible. I would guess they talked to the young nurse who subsequently questioned the older nurse about the propriety of having such a discussion in the hospital. The older nurse probably got livid when she found out that under the circumstances she could not flatly tell them to get out. She probably decided the same thing could be accomplished if she made the food bag look like blood.
Over the years quite a few Jehovah’s Witnesses when presented with a live or die choice about whether or not to be hooked up to a bag of blood have reacted like three youths in the Bible who when faced with the prospect of either denouncing God or being thrown into a fiery furnace said in so many words what ever happens, happens, and that it was unthinkable that they denounce God. Jehovah’s Witnesses consider taking blood contrary to Jehovah’s (Almighty God’s) direction in the Bible, and to them doing so would be the equivalent of denouncing God.
For a Jehovah’s Witness to come to the bedside of someone visibly hooked up to a bag of blood would be like trying to have a normal conversation with someone who was in the process of mutilating themselves.
The people in the hospital could see I was not a Jehovah’s Witness by my medical history. The fact that Jehovah’s Witnesses were coming to the hospital to visit me might have been understood by at least one nurse as their taking advantage of my condition, but I was capable of telling someone not to be there.
I got a whole lot smarter in there. I could not clean myself, but I was tremendously strong inside. I was like a large body of water with a stream going out of it at one end. The water in the stream is free from contamination if the large body of water is clean. I never had to consider what I said might be the wrong words. Whatever I said came out right. That condition came from my understanding and taking to heart what the Bible terms “the force actuating the mind”, “Putting on the new personality”, and “the more important things.” The Jehovah’s Witnesses were responsible for clarifying this and making it happen. Naturally, when any of them showed up at the hospital I was happy to see them.
Another visitor I had was a young woman who once watched our children. She told me she was about to finish nursing school and wanted to be a nurse. When she was a small child she took care of a pet rabbit at her house. A few years after that she took care of our children when we were gone. A few years after that I saw her in the hospital, and a few years after that she got married. At her wedding in Cincinnati two people traveled 800 miles to be there. They went on and on about the personal interest she had in their boy when he was in an Atlanta, Georgia hospital for a long time. They said she was the best nurse they could imagine. There was no doubt they were also her dear friends. I could understand what they said about her.
I only meant to humor a nurse when I asked if every bed in the hospital had a horsehair mattress. Soon after that I got a new mattress. I was doing therapy when it was changed. The one I got had an electric blower on one end that was turned on all the time to keep the mattress full of air. It must have cost extra. I didn’t have the slightest thought about money, and no one brought up the subject.
Another time for no particular reason I asked the main day nurse quite matter of factly if she thought I lived in a grass hut. She left without replying.
The stroke victim in the bed next to mine was moved to a nearby county hospital, and the next day another stroke victim was in that bed. Meanwhile a man who represented a company that rented wheel chairs came to ask me some vital questions. His being there implied I was going to need a wheel chair even though he was the first person to bring up that subject. He never said what it cost to rent one, and it never crossed my mind to ask. He started to talk, and when he stopped to take a breath I asked which one had the most get-up-and-go. The one I got was top of the line. It was like driving an expensive car. I used it to go to therapy each day. At night it was plugged into an electric wall socket to recharge the batteries. It was self-propelled.
The new preacher from the church I attended as a child came to the hospital. That was the church where right after my accident the name “Jocko” audibly bounced around the congregation during a moment of regularly scheduled silent prayer. He came several times. We never talked much, and he didn’t stay long. The last time was when I was doing “physical therapy” in a room full of people doing physical therapy. When he arrived I was in the wheel chair just about to leave. It had one toggle switch where my right hand went. Depending on which way the switch was pushed the chair on it’s own would go one direction or the other.
When he came in he was wearing a clergy collar. The physical therapist said I had a visitor. I pushed the toggle switch to the left, the chair pivoted in that direction, and there he was. Nobody else had a visitor in there then or any other day. I was embarrassed by his presence. I though he was going to talk about the meaning of life right there in front of God and everyone. I was done doing therapy. I wanted him to make it short and sweet for everyone’s sake. I looked up at him and said, “say a benediction.” He took me seriously, and right there over my head commenced to say something that was what a benediction is. It seemed to take an eternity. When it was over I pushed the toggle switch full speed ahead, and zoomed off without a word. The next day the physical therapist told me when I was gone the preacher said, “Where did he learn that?” Perhaps I was too short with him, because that was the last time he came there. The next time the preacher who married Jenny and me came to visit. He was from the same church, and didn’t stay long either.
The physical therapist was rather nice looking. We didn’t have much personal conversation. She did tell me she was going to get married that autumn. I didn’t ask her anything about it except to say something antiseptic like, congratulations.
A few times during the last month I was not as professional as she was. I didn’t want her to be aware of it, but I think she was. In the morning people in wheel chairs were lined up on one side of a corridor leading to the physical therapy room. We waited until our therapist came and got us. This time she was not there yet. While I was sitting in the wheel chair in a line of people in wheel chairs she put her hands over my eyes and said, “Guess who?” It was so sudden. Before she spoke I didn’t know who it was. I couldn’t say anything. She moved around to the side of the wheel chair, said good morning, and what we were going to do that day. She lowered herself so our eyes were on the same level, and because the corridor was narrow she was not far from me. I sat very still looking attentive, breathing in slowly the whole time she was talking. I could smell her breath. I wanted to exhale, but I didn’t. I tried not to show what I was doing, but she must have perceived something like my breathing was not normal. An inquisitive look came over her face as if to say are you dying or what? She stood up, and we went into the room.
Not long after that she was on her knees and elbows reaching far under a one-foot high square table to get something that had gone under there, and when she did her posterior was high in the air. There was a definite delectability about her. When she got the block, or whatever it was, she looked at me for a split second. I tried to maintain a comatose look on my face.
The first time I went entirely vertical was in that room. I was strapped to a flat surface that moved to an upright position. The therapist went to do something else. The rehabilitation doctor was in the room checking on this and that person. When he got to me I felt kind of ridiculous strapped to that board high in the air. He asked me how I was doing. I said I was, hanging around. That cracked up one of the stroke patients nearby, but the doctor wasn’t visibly moved. He and his clipboard went elsewhere. Then the therapist came back. The rest of the time I practiced transferring back and forth between the wheel chair and one of the low tables.
Jenny came to the hospital every day, and stayed as long as an hour. More often than not she would sit on the edge of the bed with one leg pulled up so she faced me. When there was a visitor the curtain was drawn. We talked about people, letters, thoughts, and things. Sometimes we didn’t talk at all, and when I closed my eyes she would say it was time for her to go.
There is a familiarity that comes from being with a person a long time. No words are required to communicate. A time like that was when Jenny was sitting on the bed. She slid her hand under the sheet and grabbed my penis. It swelled in size. She pushed back the sheet. It had been a long time. She looked behind her wondering if the nurse might see. Nurses had seen it all. She started rubbing it, and soon I had an orgasm that spurted all over the place.
On the side table there was a self-dispensing box of soft pieces of paper that I always thought was there for people who wanted to cry or blow their nose. Maybe they had one more intended use.
I also went to speech therapy and occupational therapy each day. When it was time to go a male nurse would come to the room. Their job was to get patients to therapy on time. I had no strength in my legs. With help from one of them I managed to sit up with my feet on the floor. He would roll the wheel chair over to where I was, and lift me into it from the bed. Even though I had lost 45 pounds since my accident it was still a physically demanding job. When I learned how to “transfer” from the bed into the wheel chair one of them still had to be there to position the wheel chair, and lock the wheels. Then he would take me where I was supposed to go. When one therapy was over they would follow me back, and get me in bed.
One day two of them were standing together in the hall when I went past. The one facing me looked aside like he was thinking what he was going to say next to the person standing with him. When he did he was looking at me. I held my hand up with my arm on the armrest of the wheel chair, and said “Hey brother man.” Then I was past. A few weeks later when I was going down the same hall on crutches with one of the male nurses beside me the one who I said that to stopped me. He said something about how he noticed I went from a wheel chair to crutches. He said he had not seen that happen very much. It was nice that he said that, especially since talking to me that way was not part of his job. I called him Jim, and by the way he looked that might have been his name.
Speech therapy was in a small office, where I sat across the desk from a speech therapist who lived in Bright, Indiana, and traveled by car each day. We talked about life and everything else under the sun. Many times I responded to written questions that she said had no right answers. She said the first time I was in her office I said in a matter of fact tone that being there was a waste of time. I told her the drugs must have made me mean, and now I didn’t feel that way. Was that a question and answer? She wrote something down.
Occupational therapy was in a big room across the hall from the physical therapy room. It was full of colorful rubber balls, and people trying to put round pegs in square holes. I was to learn “hand-eye” coordination there. Often my time in that room was rounded out playing a detestable board game all about battleships. I told the professional person I played the game with that no matter what happened I was not going back into the military. She thought I was quite insane. I no longer made the effort of trying to present myself as being in a state of normalcy.
Three times a male nurse took me to the resident psychiatrist’s office, and once without me, Jenny went there with our three children. Jenny said Whit and Gretchen didn’t have much to say, but Sam sang like a canary. He went on about the weather and all sorts of impertinent things. When I was in the psychiatrist office he asked me questions from standardized tests.
A few months earlier my sister successfully got my mother to undergo a “mental competency evaluation” for unrelated reasons. That child of hers was in the room with the doctor who was asking her a battery of questions. In relating to me what it was like my sister said Mom was asked, “What is the similarity between a dog and a wolf?”
She answered uncharacteristically, “They are both quadrupeds.”
So when I was asked the same question I knew I was taking the same test. For a moment I was both amused and thrilled. I would have said they both have sharp teeth or something like that, but I gave the same incredible answer my mother did. The psychiatrist asked a few more questions, and then went back to that one and said, “You don’t have to be so specific.”
A recurring physical problem I had in that hospital and for a year afterward was vomiting. No sooner did I eat than I would feel nauseous and vomit. The first time I vomited on myself. The next time a nurse held a dish made for that purpose under my chin. After that, one of those dishes was always beside my bed. I carried it everywhere I went. The doctor told me to eat slower, and that helped some.
One day I was vomiting continuously. When the male nurse came to get me for physical therapy I told him to forget it, I was too sick. If a patient didn’t want to go to therapy the male nurse was not suppose to make an issue of it, but the therapist was. Later that afternoon the physical therapist came into the room. It was the first and only time she was there. She asked why I didn’t show up that day. I told her not to take it personally. I didn’t want to puke on the floor. During the entire exchange of words she kept walking and looked at me very seldom. She walked in a straight line past the foot of the bed to a chair where she practically did a military style 180-degree turn and left without waiting for a reply to her saying she hoped I would be there tomorrow. She was in the process of teaching me how to use crutches.
When I left the hospital they gave me a prescription for two anti-nausea drugs. Those were the only two pills I was on when I left there. In the morning at home we all had breakfast together. The children went to school, and even with the pills I got sick most mornings. I told the children I threw-up a lot, and if I had to vomit while they were getting ready not to mind because I didn’t.
When I could walk without crutches, and was painting mailboxes with an external air supply several times I got the hood off just in time to vomit in a rubber garbage can full of empty one gallon paint cans, used paint strainers, and puke. The others making mailboxes in the outer room didn’t know.
The farm implements place where my brother and me bought nuts and bolts when we were children was gone, and a restaurant was on the same ground. It was at the head of the road where the Apple Barn was. I ate lunch there when it was not so certain I was going to get sick. By then vomiting had become a mind game. I was loosing the day a person who helped me make mailboxes appeared to ask me something. He saw my truck outside. It was the weekend, and his wife was with him. I didn’t know her very well. Once we talked on the phone and I told her he should lay off the sauce. He was the one who put his fist through a fish tank on a Friday night.
He asked me if he could use my trailer to haul a small tractor he was going to buy. They both sat down across the table from me. Now I really felt like I was going to puke. I did not call on God for incidental, self-serving things, but at that moment there was no way I could do anything to prevent what was going to happen. It was too horrible to think I was going to get sick in front of them just when they sat down. A clear thought went through my mind, “Please God don’t let me puke now.” I can’t say I felt all better instantly, but I was able to make a showing of myself and go over the details about his using my trailer. I did not throw up.
Jenny and I were eating at a fast food place. Half way through the fried food I told her it was time to go. She got my meaning, and we went out the door to the car. She drove. I went around to the other door, but before I got in I threw-up beside the car. I thought I was being discrete about it, but after the first part of what I ate splattered on the ground I noticed a pick-up truck facing our car with what appeared to be two workers sitting inside eating lunch. They saw the whole thing. Jenny was such a lady. They laughed, and were still laughing when we drove away. They must have thought it was the food.
Toward the end of my time in the hospital I got to go home every Sunday. I went there flat on my back, and returned the same way. Two people who rode around in an ambulance all day brought a gurney up in the elevator, lifted me onto it, and went to the farmhouse at normal speed without using the siren or emergency lights. When we got there I went into the house, and was put on a couch where I remained until they returned at the end of the day. I would lie sideways on the couch with pillows behind my back so I could read, watch television, listen to music, take pills, eat Jell-O, and throw up. Jenny was in and out of the room all day. She was attentive to say the least.
Jenny and I didn’t own the farmhouse. The industrialist who once did was dead and his four adult children were the owners. Technically a “foundation” was owner, and they were the directors. That was a legal arrangement between them and the tax people. When the farmhouse was built it was on ground known as the “Hog Back Farm”. Then it became part of Peterloon Farm. After that it was Peterloon Foundation.
When it was Peterloon Farm the industrialist was alive. It didn’t concern anyone when he said I could live there. When it became part of a foundation the informality slowly changed. There never was a landlord-tenant agreement written down, but things like mowing with the Peterloon Foundation tractor had to be done in consideration of others even though some of them would never see the field.
To me ownership is one of life’s biggest illusions, and some of that must have permeated Jenny’s thinking. When I was in the hospital she and her friends put an entire addition on the farmhouse, a house we didn’t even own. People gave us money, their labor, or the necessary building materials. It didn’t cost us a thin dime. Jenny said they were my friends. I said they must be her friends, because I didn’t think I had that many friends.
There were no stairs in the addition. The shower was big enough for a wheel chair. A ramp went to the back door. There were plans to build another ramp outside to a wood deck. It never got built. By then I had graduated to crutches. There were no closets in the original part of the farmhouse, but in the addition there were big ones and little ones everywhere.
What happened is this: A Life-long friend of Jenny’s sent a letter to people we both knew telling them of our situation and asking for their help. Our situation was that we cared very little about money and consequently had very little of it saved for a time like this. The letter didn’t tell about that specifically, but it did talk about our “simple life” which wasn’t exactly a choice.
The result was a large outpouring of help. One person gave us the concrete for the foundation of the addition. Another took our children on vacation with them. Another who was an architect designed our addition free of charge. A person we knew very little owned a building supply store, and he donated the lumber, dry wall, nails, windows, shingles and many other things at cost.
The job supervisor was a life-long acquaintance of mine. We knew each other growing up but were no more than casual friends. He was an independent contractor between jobs, and had always done some kind of construction work since he left school. He donated all his time to run the job until the addition was finished. His wife worked at a big company down town.
A person who built decks built one on the back of the addition.
An accomplished carpenter, and cousin of Jenny’s while on his way from New Hampshire to Florida stopped at our house. He was passing through after visiting his sister in Detroit. He saw the addition and a space where bookshelves were meant to go. He stayed an extra day, and built some very nice ones. His dog traveled with him.
Two other people did all the dry wall work, which means they made smooth interior walls. There was one paid carpenter. He and the job supervisor were the only ones who could hit a nail on the head every time. Other paid professionals were a plumber, an electrician, two painters, some vinyl siding people, and a heating contractor. Thirty or forty other people gave us the money to pay them. A wealthy woman whose paddle tennis courts I once kept clear of snow gave Jenny a huge amount of money. There was no stipulation about how it should be spent. She just gave it to her, and asked it be anonymous.
Our refrigerator stopped working, and two people installed another one. Their time and the refrigerator were free. In the same way a large deep freeze appliance was put in the basement. It was the first one we ever had. We used it to store food.
A lady friend who got a big brand management job a few weeks later put wallpaper in one of the front bedrooms free of charge. During that time and for a month after I got out of the hospital a different person brought dinner every night. They were assigned a day, and when I was home it didn’t seem like anyone did it more than once. Once the concrete foundation was set in place many people converged on the farmhouse, worked all-day and completed most of the addition. Jenny said, only about three people knew what they were doing. The others had much energy, and did what the job supervisor told them.
Someone had a video camera and recorded the event. I was at the hospital that day, but saw the videotape when I got home. People put up walls, and crawled on the roof like army ants. There were bankers and lawyers hammering nails. It was like an old-fashioned barn raising. People with little or no experience on roofs were nailing down shingles. Nobody rolled off. Nobody got hurt.
There was food set up on tables outside. Children played everywhere. Jenny said she thought only a few people would show up, but so many did that the addition was mostly done that day. The dry wall still had to be hung, and the professional people had their work to do.
That same day I was wheeled into the operating room where an orthopedic surgeon cut into my wrists in order to remove steel pins that were put there by the surgeon in Missouri. It was explained to me that the wrist joint is one of the most, if not the most, complicated bone structure in the human body. The hand can move in every direction because of the wrist. I was told the steel pins were put there temporarily until the bones healed. My wrists were in a “cast” before the operation. After the operation I got a new cast on each wrist.
I was anesthetized so I would have no feeling. It put me asleep. When I woke up it was night and I was back in my familiar hospital bed. I wasn’t aware of much, but I knew where I was. Apparently I was causing an uproar, because I was lovingly put in a “straight jacket”.
I knew what a straight jacket was from old movies about insane asylums. I thought they were part of history along with frontal lobotomies, but one was tucked away in the far reaches of that hospital. When it came there were numerous people who came with it like seamstresses that were going to make it fit. Those four big ugly Yugoslavians were in the back. They must have been flown in that night. It was a white canvas jacket with sleeves stitched to the body cloth. There were no openings for my hands. When the nurse with all the people behind her said in a sweet tone of voice something like, here, let’s put this on, I helped in whatever way I could. I didn’t realize what it was until I was wearing it, and even then I didn’t care much. My arms were against my body. It was made of the same material as a fencing jacket. I hoped they weren’t going to ask me to sword fight.
All the drugs had definitely modified my mood, and they gave me more. Jenny said that around midnight she got a call to get down there immediately, because I was out of my tree. Jenny said by the time she did get there in the middle of the night I was so full of drugs that there was no need for her to stay and calm me down.
I was having an adverse reaction to the drug or drugs the surgeon prescribed for me. The correlation between my behavior and the surgery was not identified until two days later when Jenny finally got through to them that I was different.
The morning after the operation I gained a small amount of sensibility. The straight jacket was removed. I was still insane, but it was not apparent. I was certain the hospital staff was secretly trying to freeze to death everyone in that wing of the building. I learned later that an ice pack on my wrist might have contributed to that deranged notion. There were big picture windows across one wall of the room. That was where my bed was. It looked like a sweltering summer out there. The windows weren’t meant to be open. I thought if they were opened it would prevent the others and me from dying.
There was a nurse there who I named Attila the Hun. She was a short older lady who was so wide that when she walked she moved from side to side. She relied on her own understanding more than what anyone taught her. I needed an ally. I couldn’t move without help. I didn’t want the other nurses to know I thought there was a conspiracy to freeze us to death. When Attila the Hun was in the room I said with the utmost seriousness and very quietly so no one else would hear that they were freezing us to death. I asked her to throw a chair through the window. We were on the eighth floor. She didn’t say yes and she didn’t say no. She just left, and probably mumbled to herself something about how I had gone berserk. I thought it would be a matter of time before she broke open the window. When it didn’t happen I figured she was afraid of loosing her job.
It may have been time to take me off the painkiller, because when they did I felt no pain. The reason could also be that when I was on it I tried to break the window myself. In the afternoon, the day after the pins were removed from my wrist I was alone in the room. The cast covered my wrist and most of my hand. It was heavy and hard. It felt like a demolition ball. I was sure if I got in the chair I could open the window by breaking the glass. The railing on the side of the bed was down, and with much exertion I managed to get to the chair. I tapped on the window with the cast. It was thick glass.
The reality of what I was doing became clear to me. I couldn’t have done it even with a hammer in my hand. I just sat there with no desire to move anywhere else. The main day nurse, the grandmother who retired, appeared in the doorway. We looked at each other, and a horrified look came over her face. She didn’t know why I got in the chair, but she knew I was there. I don’t remember what I told her, but a few days later speaking about that moment she said she was down the hall attending to some other business when for no reason all of her attention went to me. She couldn’t figure it out, and said once before in that hospital a person fell to their death. Did she think I was going to jump?
Later that afternoon I opened my eyes and saw Attila the Hun sitting in a chair between the window and me. She looked at me crossly and said she wasn’t moving. I said, “good”, and went back to sleep.
While I was flat on my back Jenny kept the mailbox business alive. She did the paper and numbers. People in the shop oversaw production, and between the two of them orders were filled. A few weeks before the accident happened I taught one other person to paint. If there hadn’t been someone to paint the whole thing would have screeched to a halt.
Jenny didn’t talk much about mailboxes, but every once in a while she would ask me something. One time it was about disposable clear plastic stick on lenses for the paint hood. I had always bought them ten or twelve at a time. Now the supplier was saying they only came in boxes of 2000. That quantity would last me ten or fifteen years.
Another time it was a more weighty matter to her. She had made a command decision, but it was not entirely irreversible. She told me what happened.
The top marketing man at the first mail order company had been fired, and he wanted to sell the mailboxes through a second mail order catalog company he and another person were starting. Jenny called the owner of the first company and told him we needed more money and that we were going to sell mailboxes through the second company. When they were talking on the telephone several other of his people were on the same line. Jenny said the whole thing was rather intimidating.
On the telephone with the mail order company owner and his cronies Jenny kept saying we had to sell more mailboxes, and the owner’s last words were, “You do what you have to do and we will do what we have to do.” That was the end of the conversation.
When she told me about this it sounded like she was taking care of business. She said she didn’t know what meaning the word “exclusive” had with mailboxes so I told her.
Right after I went from using a paintbrush to using a paint sprayer I got a letter from the marketing man while he was still at the first company. In the letter he said he saw the mailboxes at the home and garden show.
He asked to see another mailbox, and a few days later he wanted to talk about details. A meeting was set up. I met with him and another person who took pictures for the catalog with a large format Swedish camera. The photography person and me were in two chairs in front of the desk. The marketing man said he wanted an agreement with me (probably written) that said I would not sell mailboxes to any other catalog. I told him if my mailboxes were sold exclusively by them I would be like one of their employees except I’d be one without a retirement plan. He said he only wanted the exclusive for the mail order business.
The owner of the company opened the door, and leaned into the office. He said something about a story he read in the local daily newspaper that morning. He left pulling the door shut behind him. The marketing man and the photographer looked at each other when he was gone.
We got back to business. I said a lawyer in a suit who wanted to be an outrageous rock and roll star when he grew up told me the most important thing to have in any agreement is a way to get out of it.
Also I said their idea sounded like a treaty between two countries. As long as both sides were happy it worked. As soon as one side isn’t happy the treaty is worthless.
Then the marketing man said it would be an agreement just like the one with, and he named a huge international Japanese company. He said they had an exclusive with them for a hand held airport “scanner” radio. He said the agreement was “cancelable” by either side with 30-day notice. That seemed like no agreement at all to me. I told him we could have one cancelable by either side with 3-months notice.
When I was in the hospital the second catalog company was in the inception stage. I told Jenny we had no exclusive with the first catalog company or anyone else. We decided to send them a piece of paper suitable for framing that said in four months we were going to sell mailboxes to another mail order company. Then we talked about other things.
I had one more operation on my wrist by the same orthopedic surgeon. That time I was given a “local” anesthetic which meant I was awake during the operation. The area where the doctor was cutting was numbed. While the doctor was working on me he was talking to another person who was standing on the other side of the table where I was lying. When I joined in with a few words of my own the doctor said, “What?” like he didn’t expect me to talk. After that no one talked the rest of the time.
I was in that hospital three months. Shortly before I left the occupational therapist, Jenny, and me met by my bed and talked about adjustments at home. Those adjustments primarily concerned access to the house and questions about stairs. I was learning to walk with crutches across smooth linoleum floors, but when I went from one place to another I went mostly in a wheel chair. The therapist said she would go to our house in order to recommend this or that about a passage, but when she heard a room addition was almost finished with a wheel chair ramp leading to the back door she said there was no need for her to go there.
The occupational therapist loaded me up with torsion springs and other gadgets that would strengthen parts of my body. She was standing at one side of my bed, and Jenny was standing on the other side. I had the awful habit of interrupting people when they were talking, and I did it enough times to the therapist that she finally interrupted me and said, “Shut up or I’ll smack you.”
There were no farewells expressed or implied when I left. It was a matter of routine like going home on Sunday. I just left. The friend who shaved my face drove his car. I didn’t have what the medical people call “the full range of motion” in my knees so whatever car I used the size of the door opening was a concern.
On the last day Jenny came up to the room. She opened a folding wheel chair, put it beside my bed, and locked the wheels. I made the switch with my trusty transfer board, and off we went. She wheeled me down the hall to the elevator. We went through the lobby, and out into the summer heat. It felt good to be alive once more. By then I had enough strength to get in our car. It had enough legroom. We used it on several previous Sundays when an ambulance was no longer needed to take me home for the day. When I left the hospital my friend brought his car. He and the car were waiting by the front doors. After I got in he put the folding wheel chair in the cargo space. I was in the front, and Jenny got in the back. He drove.
The bed next to mine in the hospital room had three different people in it (at different times). Every one of them was an older male who turned the television on in the early morning, and, if they had their way would keep it that way all day. A nurse turned it off if they were gone to therapy, or if they were asleep. I also had one. The television for each person was located high on the opposite wall, and was held there by a specially made bracket. When we sat up in bed we were looking directly at the thing. A person in bed, without getting out of it, could turn their television on or off, raise or lower the volume, and change channels.
On Saturday mornings the other television had one program after another about fishing. Topics discussed were how and where to fish. I saw so many of those shows I felt as if I could find a desolate lake or stream in the mountains, and fish like a pro.
The week before I left the hospital there was a commercial that appeared repeatedly about six burritos and a choice of sauce. On the way home all I wanted to do was go to a “drive through” and get some. The three of us were all going to have the same thing, but until I talked about it neither Jenny nor my friend had heard the burrito advertisement.
At the restaurant my friend stopped the car beside a large sign. It had pictures of food, and listed the food for sale there. It also had an electronic device in it that enabled him to talk with a person in the restaurant. He asked for burritos and sauce. A voice repeated the order, said the cost, and told him to drive forward to a sliding window where money and food were exchanged.
At the window a young woman said they were out of one sauce, but they had the other two. I was very upset. I leaned over from the other side of the car so I could see her. In a furious manner with saliva coming out of my mouth I said crossly that all month there was advertisement after advertisement about the sauce they didn’t have. She was shaken by my loss of temper. She called another person to the window who repeated that there was no more of that sauce. I also repeated what I said about the advertising. I added it was against the law, in the United States of America, for anyone to advertise something for sale they didn’t have. She said there was a case of it in the building, but it was not opened. I told her to go open it, and said we would wait right there in the fast lane until she did. A few minutes later she gave us all the sauce we wanted.
We took the food home to eat like a wild bird with something in its claws. It was tasty, but I never got it another time. My friend and Jenny had been quiet during my exchange with the drive-through lady. I felt there was a need to explain myself. I said the sauce really looked good on television.
I had gotten in a rage over burrito sauce. Later I was told outbursts like that were typical of people who had strokes and/or closed head injuries. Another time it happened was in a restaurant that had white tablecloths on all the tables. Jenny and I had too much wine and bourbon. I was speaking loudly about my nephew. He was either going to live with us or live in an orphanage. I had been studying the Bible, and one of the things in there was that someone who didn’t help their own had a lot of nerve asking Jehovah for help. Jenny thought my whole obsession with the Bible was part of the accident, and had to be dealt with like a broken bone. I didn’t go into the Bible with her. I simply said there was a moral obligation. She said it would ruin our family. By then I was in the midst of a rage. I said our family was already ruined. My temper got worse. Jenny got up to go to the toilet. I was staring at the plate when someone said, “You shouldn’t air your laundry in public.” There had been a large group at the table next to us. They had just finished eating and left. This one individual was from that group. When the others were gone he came over and said what he said.
I looked up at him like I heard him wrong and asked, “What?” He said it again about the laundry. I said, “You know what you can do?” It was a rhetorical question. I didn’t wait for an answer. “You can go fornicate yourself,” but I didn’t use such a nice word.
Then he was the one who said, “What?” I said it another time. He clenched his fist, and said he would like to hit me. I had images of us tearing up the restaurant breaking tables and chairs over our heads. We would smash everything just like in the cowboy movies. But like my inability to break the window in the hospital what I did was say if he hit me I would sue him. Then he said, “What is she going to sue you for?” I said, “I hope for divorce.”
After that he walked away from where he was. Then he was talking to me again from the next table. He said, “Even he agrees with me,” and he pointed to a man with his back to me who didn’t turn around.
I said, “Tell him to go fornicate himself too.”
When Jenny came back to the table she showed me a business card he gave her. The card said he was the preacher of what sounded like a one of a kind church. Jenny said he stopped her in the front room, and told her to call if she needed help. She wanted to know what happened. Perhaps he was sincere, but I told her all he probably wanted was to get into her pants. She said, at least someone did. We both laughed. Our sweet little waitress came over to the table and as sweet as could be I asked her if she had any ice cream products for desert. She looked at me in a way that said she knew everything that just happened, and it was sickening the way I was trying to be so sweet all of a sudden.
Eventually I was able to control my fits of anger, but not before I hit Jenny. It happened when Jenny and I were going back home after a cookout. Our whole family was invited and went. The person who asked us also asked twenty or thirty other people. We all grilled dinner under shade trees that were near a large swimming pool. It was a swim club, and that meant everybody at that place was either a member or a guest.
Most of the people knew nothing about our group. Children were splashing and playing games in the water. Others were talking across round tables. Some were sprawled in the sun as if asleep, and some sat motionless peering through dark glasses at people who could not see their eyes.
On the way there, less than a mile from the swim club, we passed a church where it was plain to see a temporary festival with strings of lights, carnival rides, tents, and booths was about to begin. If it was like all the other church festivals that sporadically happened in the summer most of the booths were, “…schemes of chance such as number games or lotteries. Games of chance such as poker, craps, roulette, slot machines, or other games where the player gives something of value in the hope of gain, the action of which is determined largely or wholly by chance…” That’s how gambling is defined by the Ohio Revised Code Sec. 2915-01E.
It would be commonplace anywhere else, but on church grounds, a place that claims to promote the values of God, they gamble there. I was not capable of convincing anyone what they did. I tried to explain to Sam I knew it was wrong. He said, “Did you see a burning bush?”
Not long after that I was trying to explain my obsession about writing this book to my oldest son. He saw it as an achievement like a wrestling championship. He told me be prepared to loose. He was a wrestler. His senior year he was undefeated at the district level. He worked extra hard preparing for the State finals. Every day he ate right, ran, and practiced wrestling. He lost at the State level. When he lost we sat in the stadium pretending to watch other matches being won and lost. Then I broke the silence with a story about something I saw years earlier. I said to him, “A person who won an Olympic marathon was unknown. He was from an English speaking country. He was still out of breath when a television reporter stuck a microphone in his face, and asked if he came prepared to win. He said, ‘Yes, but I also came prepared to lose.'” Whit remembered those words from a year earlier. Now, with my being obsessed, I couldn’t logically explain to him, it was not something I could win or loose. It is something I do like a bird goes South every year.
Just the two of us were in the car when we returned home from the swim club. The children had met friends.
Their parents were our friends. Our children were going to spend the night at their house, and go to the festival. The first time we drove past the festival I had talked about it like it was far off, and how awful it was. Little did I know our children were going there. Returning home, going past for the second time it was dusk. Children were walking rapidly through the road intersection to get there and meet their friends. Jenny and I were not exactly talking peacefully about the situation.
We were having what is pleasantly referred to as a heated discussion in the car about the pros and cons of the festival. There were mostly cons coming from me. It was difficult for me to speak clearly. Over and over again she talked when I talked. She was infuriated that I was infuriated over what seemed to her like harmless fun. I told her not to talk when I was talking. She talked even more. I couldn’t talk over her. I yelled uncontrollably something along the lines of, “Shut up bitch.” and smacked her across the face with the back of my hand (literally a bitch is a female dog, but more often it is a derogatory term applied to human females). Her lip was bleeding and she was quiet while she patched that up. We talked no more. After several miles she broke the silence and said, “You hit me”.
After hitting Jenny and after the scene in the restaurant I became aware that loosing control so easily was a problem. Our life together had always been volatile. We went from one extreme to the other. I got rid of the last door Jenny slammed. She was looking on the bright side when she said there was never a dull moment.
I told one of the older men in our congregation about losing my temper in the restaurant. I was a new comer. Perhaps he didn’t say anything because he didn’t want to discourage my interest in the Bible by telling me my behavior toward the other person was base and despicable by Bible standards. Sometimes I felt like an Egyptian crossing the Red Sea with a bunch of Israelites.
The brother who once a week studied the Bible with me had something to say. He always brought another person with him. That time his wife was there. They were young adults. It seemed appropriate that I use the same four-letter F word I used in the restaurant to describe what happened there. Right after I did I was sorry. It made her uncomfortable. Without making any expression she kept looking at her lap. Actually, her reaction was definite, because without intending, she made it quite clear she could not deal with that word in any way, shape, or form.
Her husband said we try to set a good example, and he said the example we follow is the one set by Jesus Christ.
Jenny told a friend about my outbursts, and when I hit her. In a genuinely concerned way with smiles and kindness the friend told me about a doctor her husband saw once a month. She said the doctor was a tremendous help for her husband. She was certain he would be as much help to me. She told me the doctor’s name, but said she would have to call me with his telephone number.
I went there and filled out the necessary forms. I spoke with a lady in a room off to the side about the nature of my problem. I said it was typified by a recent situation in a restaurant. When I told her what I said to the preacher man she as much as asked if that was a problem? I don’t think she was a doctor, but I didn’t ask. I told her that according to the Bible I had a problem. I told her I was studying the Bible with Jehovah’s Witnesses. She wrote on a pad of paper a long time. She stopped writing, put her head in her hand, and was staring at the paper. I expected her to ask something about the Bible just like I once did, but she didn’t. She made an appointment for me to see a doctor.
The doctor and me sat in his office in two chairs that were the same. In the beginning of the very first visit I used the word self-control, and said the Bible was a source of guidance for me. Then he asked, “What does the Bible say about self control?” I didn’t expect he would ask that question. I wasn’t able to tell him all nine fruitages of the spirit mentioned in the Bible, but I said self-control was one of them. We were having a nice time talking about the Bible, or at least I thought both of us were having a nice time. I don’t know, because very abruptly our session was over. He wrote down a time for me to be there the next month.
I went several times. The last time he requested that Jenny also be there. He wanted her to say what it was like living with a Jehovah’s Witness. She said from the edge of her seat that there wasn’t a dull moment. The doctor scheduled me for another appointment a month later. I forgot that one, and for no particular reason I never went back.
In the Bible there is a difference between men and women that goes beyond the obvious sexual difference. It begins with Adam and Eve who are in a three-way relationship with God. When Christ is on earth the relationship between men and women does not change. Women are in subjection to men. After the Garden of Eden when mankind goes his way without God the subjection becomes domination, even injurious domination. The Godly relationship between man and women gets lost in a sea of confusion, conflict, and abuse.
The very first man and woman, Adam and Eve, had an unusual beginning. The man was formed out of the dust. He was given the breath of life and became a living soul. The Bible says, “Now Jehovah God was forming from the ground every wild beast of the field and every flying creature of the heavens, and he began bringing them to the man to see what he would call each one; and whatever the man would call it, each living soul, that was its name. So the man was naming all the domestic animals and the flying creatures of the heavens and every wild beast of the field, but for the man there was found no helper as a compliment of him.”
“And Jehovah God went on to say: ‘It is not good for the man to continue by himself. I am going to make a helper for him, as a compliment’. God had a deep sleep fall upon the man, and while he was sleeping, he took one of the ribs and then closed up the flesh over its place. And Jehovah proceeded to build the rib he had taken from the man into a woman and bring her to the man. Then the man said: ‘this is at last bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh. This one will be called woman because from the man this one was taken.'”
The Bible account continues, “That is why a man will leave his father and his mother, and he must stick to his wife and they must become one flesh. And both of them continued naked, the man and his wife, and yet they did not become ashamed.”
That was a family. The man named the woman like he did the beasts in the field and the flying creatures in the sky, but he was not superior or inferior to her. The woman was the “compliment” of the man. Together they were “one.”
Everything ran amok. “And Jehovah God also laid this command upon the man: ‘From every tree of the garden you may eat to satisfaction. But as for the tree of the knowledge of good and bad, you must not eat from it, for in the day you eat from it you will positively die.'”
Satan, later described as the original serpent, found a weakness in them, and they ate from that tree. Then here is what happened, “And Jehovah God kept calling to the man saying to him, ‘where are you?’ Finally he said: ‘Your voice I heard in the garden, but I was afraid because I was naked and so I hid myself’. At that he said: ‘Who told you that you were naked?'” The rest is a history of turmoil, not just for women, but also for mankind.
In early Bible times after Adam and Eve were expelled from the Garden of Eden it can’t be denied the treatment of women is sometimes horrible even when it happens in a 5000 year old civilization. A lady friend earnestly attempting to read the Bible upon reading the story of Lot read no further. She ended up rejecting the Bible in part or in whole and continued with her own personal idea of goodness. Contrary to popular opinion according to the Bible there is no good in our flesh. Being good without God is impossible. One thing for sure. God doesn’t use high and mighty public relations techniques to get his point across.
Lot’s story is an example. God always provides an escape route for those who listen, and from the story a person may see it is a good idea to follow Gods directions, especially the one about looking back.
The woman I know who abruptly stopped reading the Bible when she reached chapter 19 of Genesis saw something else, and later said, “Is the Bible the way to live or the way not to live?” In the story, men and boys in the city of Sodom and Gomorrah surround Lot’s house. They call for Lot to send out two men so they can have “intercourse” with them. The two men are angels. When they arrive in that city Lot knows who they are, and repeatedly he asks them to stay the night at his house. They accept, and like any right-minded person, who knows two angels are in his house, Lot shows them the utmost hospitality. He washes their feet, and prepares a feast for them. That is when a mob surrounds his house. Lot goes outside closing the door behind him. He doesn’t say the two men inside are angels. They might think he is insane. Lot tries to appease them. He calls them “brothers” which is a friendly greeting. He tells them not to act “badly”, an understatement if ever there was one. Lot tries to relate to these people. He tells them, “Only to these men do not do a thing, because, that is why they have come under the shadow of my roof”. Hospitality is understood to be a virtue.
Here is what stopped my friend from reading any further in the Bible. Lot says to them, “Please, here I have two daughters who have never had intercourse with a man. Please let me bring them out to you. Then do to them as is good in your eyes.” It is rather obvious nothing about those people is good. Lot was suggesting they gang rape his two daughters instead of gang raping his two male guests. Then the mob threatens to gang rape Lot. That is when Jehovah intervenes. The angels pull lot inside, and everyone outside becomes blind. The account says Lot told his “son in laws” that Jehovah was going to destroy the city. Lot either had other daughters or the two virgin daughters were engaged to be married. In the ancient Jewish culture engaged men are sons in laws. It says the son in laws thought he was joking.
The next morning the angels promptly lead Lot, his wife, and the two virgin daughters (Lot’s family) by the hand out of the city. As soon as they are outside the city Jehovah makes it rain sulfur and fire on Sodom and Gomorrah. All the people are destroyed. Even the plants are destroyed. The two angels insisted they move quickly. Lot and his two daughters escaped the destruction of that city with nothing but the shirt on their backs.
On the outskirts of town Lot’s wife wants one last look at what is behind her. She gets that look and became a pillar of salt. That was the end of her. She is gone. Jehovah’s direction through one of his angels was that no one look back.
After what happened Lot must have been jumpy. He goes to live in the city of Zoar. The Bible says that he was afraid to live in the mountainous region where some calamity might “keep close to him.” Without giving a reason the Bible says Lot soon was afraid to live in Zoar, and began dwelling in the mountainous region in a cave with what remained of his family, his two daughters.
Then in the same chapter the Bible says, “And the firstborn proceeded to say to the younger woman ‘Our father is old and there is not a man in the land to have relations with according to the way of the whole earth. Come let us give our father wine to drink and let us lie down with him and preserve offspring from our father.'” The two daughters wanted to have sexual relations with a man according to the way of the whole earth, and they reasoned having sexual intercourse with their father was necessary in order to “preserve offspring from our father’”. The Bible says Lot was drunk. It says, “He did not know when she lay down and when she got up.”
The account continues, “And it came about on the next day that the firstborn then said to the younger: ‘Here, I lay down with my father last night. Let us give him wine to drink tonight also. Then you go in, lie down with him, and let us preserve offspring from our father’”.
That story ended one person’s attempt to read the Bible.
Since the day Lot’s story was recorded, people, in an attempt to explain their personal philosophy, have explained it their way. It has become like an inkblot.
Lot’s treatment of his daughters is not what someone would expect of a parent today. In the cave the subject of incest had not been defined, but today it would be foremost on our mind. It wasn’t until later in the Bible book of Leviticus chapter 18 that Jehovah gave specific directions to his people about sexual relations.
Another story early in the Bible that details what on the surface seems to be the harsh treatment of women is about what Phinehas did. Leading up to his appearance in the Bible there exists a situation where the nation of Israel is attracted to another group of people especially to their women. The Bible account says their attraction extends to their having “immoral relations” with them. The Israelites then become attached to the foreign god of those people. Until then their devotion is going exclusively to Jehovah who is helping them every step of the way. Why are they unfaithful? An explanation is at Matthew 26:41, “The spirit, of course, is eager, but the flesh is weak.” Jehovah brought a “scourge” against Israel.
During that time a well to do Israelite waltzes into the tent of meetings with a well to do foreign woman. At chapter 25 versus 6-9 in the Bible book of Numbers it says what happened, “But, look! A man of the sons of Israel came, and he was bring near to his brothers a Midianite woman before Moses’ eyes and before the eyes of all the assembly of the sons of Israel while they were weeping at the entrance of the tent of meeting (it was a sad situation). When Phinehas the son of Eleazar the son of Aron the priest caught sight of it, he at once got up from the midst of the assembly and took a lance in his hand. Then he went after the man of Israel into the vaulted tent (bedroom) and pierced both of them through, the man of Israel and the woman through her genital parts. At that the scourge was halted from the sons of Israel. And those who died from the scourge amounted to twenty four thousand.”
There are no spears in the coatroom anymore, but human nature and sexual understanding do not change. In the last book of the Bible, Revelations 17:18 & 18:1-3 it talks about symbolic Babylon the Great (corrupted religion) fornicating with the kings of the earth (governments). According to the Bible they both will be destroyed.
In early Bible times the law of Israel said a wife and children were the possessions of the male head of household. The law was in the form of the Mosaic code provided by Jehovah through Moses to the nation of Israel. All together there are more than 630 of them. The Mosaic code served as a protection for the Israelites leading to the Messiah.
The Mosaic code allowed for divorce of women by men, but not the divorcing of men by women. Under the law (Mosaic code) the woman was a possession. Grounds for divorce was if the woman did “something indecent.” It was not adultery because the punishment for adultery for both men and women was death.
A Jehovah’s Witness Bible reference work entitled Insight on the Scriptures says this, “Doubtless, originally the ‘indecency’ that would have given a Hebrew husband some basis for divorcing his wife involved serious matters, perhaps the wife showing gross disrespect for the husband or bringing shame on the household. Since the law specified, ‘you must love your fellow as yourself,’ it is not reasonable to assume that petty faults could be used with impunity as excuses for divorcing a wife. -Leviticus 19:18.”
The reference work continues, “In the days of Malachi many Jewish husbands were dealing treacherously with their wives, divorcing them on all kinds of grounds, ridding themselves of the wives of their youth, possibly in order to marry younger, pagan women. Instead of upholding God’s law, the priests allowed this, and Jehovah was greatly displeased. (Malachi 2:10-16) That the Jewish men were using many grounds for divorce when Jesus Christ was on earth is indicated by the question the Pharisees put to Jesus: ‘Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife on every sort of ground?’-Matthew 19:3.”
The answer at Matthew 19:8,9 is, “I say to you that whoever divorces his wife, except on the ground of fornication, and marries another commits adultery.” The only indication in the Bible that a women can divorce a man is at Matthew 10:12 where Jesus Christ who the Bible says replaces the law code (Romans 7:6 & 10:4) said, “If ever a woman, after divorcing her husband, marries another, she commits adultery.” Jesus Christ in his Sermon on the Mount said the only grounds for divorce was fornication. A person is not obligated to divorce an unfaithful mate, but the only Scriptural basis for divorce is fornication.
The Bible does not define adultery and fornication in one place, but from all the places where those words occur it can be understood adultery happens when a married person has sexual intercourse with someone of the opposite sex other than their marriage mate. Fornication happens when a married or an unmarried person has any type of sexual relations with another person (not a Scriptural mate), or persons, or to a beast.
The man is head over the woman, and the Christ is head over him. Headship is described at 1 Corinthians 11:3 “But I (Apostle Paul) want you to know that the head of every man is the Christ; in turn the head of the woman is the man; in turn the head of the Christ is God.”
A woman prancing down the street with a fancy attaché case hanging can be happily married to a local coal miner with soot on his face. Neurotic as we are it is unlikely that relationship could exist, but if it did it would not conflict with God as long as the man is the family head and its spiritual leader.
The Bible says a married man and women are to be aware of the sexual needs of the other person. At 1 Corinthians 7:3&4 the Bible says, “Let the husband render to (his) wife her due; but let the wife also do likewise to (her) husband.”
Patients and self-control is a big part of it. Ephesians 5:25,28 &29, “Husbands, continue loving your wives, just as the Christ also loved the congregation and delivered himself up for it. In this way husbands ought to be loving their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself, for no man ever hated his own flesh; but he feeds and cherishes it, as the Christ also does the congregation, because we are members of his body.”
The Bible tells women at 1 Peter 3:3, “And do not let your adornment be that of the external braiding of the hair and the putting on of gold ornaments or the wearing of outer garments, but let it be the secret person of the heart in the incorruptible apparel of the quiet and mild spirit, which is of great value in the eyes of God. For so, too, formally the holy women who were hoping in God used to adorn themselves, subjecting themselves to their own husbands, as Sara used to obey Abraham calling him ‘lord’. And you have become her children, provided you keep on doing good and not fearing any cause for terror.”
Then in verse 7 it says, “You husbands, continue dwelling in a like manner with them according to knowledge assigning them honor as to the weaker vessel, the feminine one, since you are also heirs with them of the undeserved favor of life, in order for your prayers not to be hindered.”
Verse 8 speaks about men and women together. “Finally, all of you be like minded, showing fellow feeling, having brotherly affection, tenderly compassionate, humble in mind, not paying back injury for injury or reviling for reviling, but, to the contrary bestowing a blessing, because you were called to this course, so that you might inherit a blessing.
The apostle Paul was not married. Under inspiration he wrote more books of the Christian Greek Scripture than anyone else did. He said he was a slave of the true God. There was no doubt in his mind that God was a reality. God’s own Son appeared to him on the road to Damascus and spoke directly to him. Until then Paul was involved with killing Christians. Jesus Christ began by asking Paul why he was persecuting him. That incident made Paul a firm believer. From then on nothing, not even bad health, stopped his zeal. He wrote at 1 Corinthians 7:9, “Now I say to unmarried persons and the widows, it is well for them that they remain even as I am. But if they do not have self control let them marry, for it is better to marry than be inflamed (with passion).” It is God’s direction that their be no sexual activity outside marriage.
Jenny drove me to a place where each day I spent time learning to walk, and make sense on the job. Other people there were recovering from a stroke or from an accident of some kind.
I was in a wheel chair the first few weeks. Jenny signed me in, and left. The physical therapist who worked with me everyday came to the waiting area. She was very pregnant. She left during that time, and the word was she had a girl with ten fingers and ten toes. She walked behind me while I propelled the wheel chair from the waiting area to a big room where five or six other people were working on their mobility.
The first thing I did was transfer from the wheel chair to a low table. They were just like the ones in the hospital. Lying flat on my back I would stretch mussels in my arms and legs. I did the same exercises every day. The physical therapist always told me which one to do next. She would then measure, and write down how well I could bend my knees and other joints.
Once that was done I worked on walking which eventually involved moving with the help of crutches in the parking lot, opening doors, and going up one or two stairs. Even when we were talking she walked behind me. One time we were going down a hallway in the building, and she said I would be walking on my own in a few weeks.
That was the first time in a long time anyone had mentioned my future. I hadn’t thought about it one way or the other. I expressed something along the lines of polite disbelief. I couldn’t imagine walking without crutches. It wasn’t clear to her what I said. She came up beside me. Then I said something that paralleled what I considered her overly optimistic statement.
After the physical therapy I saw a speech therapist in a much smaller room. Invariably she had me do computer games to exercise the mussel between my ears. I didn’t do well at those games. I think that is why I had to keep doing them. I needed improvement.
Another thing she asked me to do was make change with coins. I could do it, but overall I didn’t do very well. Jenny told her my poor performance wasn’t a result of the accident, that I never could count money.
The therapist had me read advertisements. The advertisements were designed by medical people to determine if someone would be the lawful game of someone else. It took a few minutes to read each one. When I was done the therapist would ask me what I thought? One was particularly
blatant about asking for large amounts of money for little or nothing in return. I told the therapist if I got anything like that in the mail I would unbolt the kitchen sink and send it to them. She asked me about that over and over again, and I kept saying over and over again, they wanted the kitchen sink. The advertisement didn’t say anything about the sink in the kitchen, and I suppose that concerned her.
The last few weeks I saw a psychiatrist who asked many of the same written questions the psychiatrist in the hospital did. Based on that she wrote an eight or nine page paper. No one had ever written that much about me in my entire life. It was very academic sounding. It made me feel very special. It said I had the equivalent of an eighth grade education in mathematics, and that my vocabulary was up there near the one-hundredth percentile. It was a real compliment coming from them.
The last segment of instruction each day was occupational therapy. Among other things it involved developing hand eye coordination. The amount of time it took me to invert a row of blocks was recorded. The person who was telling me what to do said my right hand was much slower than my left hand. I did it several more times, and each time she said how one side was faster than the other was.
We held a rope between us, and knocked an object with a hole in it back and forth along the rope. Once I batted the object too hard with my right hand. It whizzed along the rope very fast, and knocked loudly into the wooden handle she was holding. Very quickly she fired it back to me with just as much force. She thought I did it on purpose. I apologized several times for sending it so hard. When I said that she didn’t look at me, but at a nearby therapist, who might have been listening.
The last week I was there she got in a chair next to the chair I was sitting in, and gave me a piece of paper to sign. It seemed she wrote it herself. She talked quietly, and looked to see if anyone else was near. The paper said I was able to return to work. She asked if everything was correct. She reminded me of the army induction officer who asked me where I wanted to be stationed. I signed her paper without hesitation, and said just like Goofy in the cartoons, “Yup, that’s me, a-ugh a-ugh a-ugh.” She was not capable of altering what was going to happen.
A few months after I was finished with that place I was walking across a parking lot at a mini shopping center when I saw her locked out of her car. By then I had enough strength to push down the clutch pedal of my truck. The great state of Ohio said I was allowed to “operate a motor vehicle”. We recognized each other immediately. I told her I had done the same thing many times. The solution was keeping a spare key in a magnetized box somewhere under the car. She didn’t need my help. Later that week I took a new magnetized box to the medical place where she worked. I asked a woman at the front desk to give it to her, and then I left.