Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Simple-Minded Thoughts

There are those of us who tend to over-analyze everything; there are those who see things at face value.

In preparing my somewhat "mean-streaked" Thanksgiving post for later, I have recollections of earlier years in my life.

In college, I had the priviledge of working with mentally handicapped persons. My first employment in this field was astonishing. The private facility housed 300 and I attached myself to a few of the residents.

One was a physically handicapped guy in his late teens. He was paralized when his parents had a car accident. They dropped him off and never visited him again. His mind was sharp and he shared many tormential feelings of being trapped in a chair, having "retards" to converse with and knowing that he would probably never have a girlfriend and in fact would probably never leave this facility.

Another resident at this facility was probably a savant. Having been brain damaged by forceps at birth, his grandparents attempted to raise him until he set fire to the barn. He spoke very rapidly and could name all of the presidents, their wives and years of tenure - all in about 60 seconds! Awesome.

Both of these guys had parents that took settlement money and called it quits on them. (I don't think judges were very vigilant in monitoring guardianship monies back then).

Later I went to work at a group home with 6 ladies with various degrees of simple-mindedness. Two stand out.

Little Mary was a very petite person. Her hands were toddler-size. Having been born with a severe case of Downs Syndrome to an unwed mother in the 60's, she was placed in a state hospital until adopted in her teens. The sickos that adopted her also sexually abused her. Despite that, perhaps she didn't even realize what had happened, she was so funny. One of her favorite lines in response to minor accidents on the part of others, "That's good for you." Mary went to my home for holidays many times.

Sandy was raised on a farm. Always smiling and happy, after her parents got on in age, she was placed in this least restrictive environment. Girl could grow anything and had many profusely growing Aloe Vera plants that she emptied used coffee grounds into - her "secret" ingredient.

So, on this day before Thanksgiving, I give thanks for having had these folks in my life and for my over-analyzing.


Hammer said...

It's great you were able to meet and appreciate these people. It's really sad how many are abandoned and ignored this time of year.

In the next couple of weeks my mother in law is taking the kids to the nursing homes to visit and bring presents to the folks who don't get visitors.

NoMas said...

That's nice. Your kids will always remember those visits. I adore the elderly and have many fond memories of volunteer work with them.

Anonymous said...

I can relate to this first-hand. I worked with a girl who had cerebral palsy and was wheelchair bound.--I fed her for two years through a feeding tube inserted into her stomach for two years while she attended college. She had an IQ of 140 (and I can vouch for this personally), but she was locked in a body that just didn't work.

Her eyes were filled with life, even though she couldn't speak. She was lively and mischevious. Fortunately for her, her stepfather made a special contraption attached to her wheelchair that allowed her to spell out sentences by pushing a shift stick device with her mouth. Although her mother never abandoned her, her mother was worn out by caring for my friend for 23 years and at times it showed. I will never forget this girl.