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A Family With Polio from the Heart of An Eight Year Old Part 4
by Marijo Phelps
01/13/11
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This week found me at Aunt Shirl and Uncle Jack’s house. I was making the rounds this summer of my Mom’s relatives while she and my sister got treatment for Colette’s polio in Denver. Dad was home in Rochester working six days a week. I was in Wisconsin.

Debbie is my ten month old cousin. I get to help feed her and play with her. She is grins and slapping hands on her high chair table. I am joyful with her.

“OK, let’s see if we can get her to eat this soft boiled egg……” My aunt spooned a mouthful into Debbie’s lips while saying “yum, yum.”

Aunt Shirl then turned her head away from the baby to look at me and stuck her tongue out mouthing “yuck”. Oh, my goodness, someone who likes runny eggs just as much as I do, I laughed out loud.

“You don’t like them either, do you?” With that question Aunt Shirl won my heart while Debbie innocently smacked away at her breakfast to my aunt’s “yum, yums….”

We played and built with blocks. When Uncle Jack came home from teaching school we all got into the car and went out for a walk around the neighborhood. Debbie was excited about everything from the neighbor’s dog to a fluffy tailed squirrel which scrambled up the maple tree scolding and scolding us for interrupting her nut gathering process.

It was still hot and sticky, Wisconsin in the summer, but I was enjoying this. Aunt Shirl let me help her with dishes and setting the table but most of all I loved helping with baby Debbie. She was a most delightful cousin.

There was the old Royal typewriter in the hallway on a little table and I was looking at it. Well, OK, I was touching it and I broke it! Some of the keys went up and wouldn’t go back no matter what I did to them. I felt terrible. I walked away. How could I say anything? I had wrecked the typewriter. I knew I shouldn’t have been playing with it. I was sad and upset. Was I going to be in big trouble? I wished I was home. I missed Mom, Dad and Colette. I missed playing dolls with my sister and going fishing with my Dad. I missed talking to my Mom.

I went back to the typewriter, touching those broken keys again, getting ink all over my fingers. Then all of the sudden both keys went back down where they belonged. I was so relieved. I ran to find my Aunt.

“Aunt Shirl, I thought I broke your typewriter.”

“What happened honey?”

“Two keys stayed up and wouldn’t go back down no matter what I did.”

“Let’s take a look, they seem to be fine now. Sometimes two get stuck together and you have to carefully unstick them like this.”
And my aunt showed me how they stick and how to unstick them.

I couldn’t help it. I got tears in my eyes. Aunt Shirl drew me into a big hug with her arm which wasn’t holding Debbie.

“That’s OK honey, it happens all the time and you didn’t break anything.”

But my tears were then for something more than the typewriter. My family had been broken by polio and my heart was too. My Aunt Shirl’s arm hugged me tight. Knowing she cared was more than enough for that day as I smiled through my tears. Someday maybe I could go home again and we didn’t even have a typewriter to get stuck. I sure hoped it would be soon.

(C) Marijo Phelps all rights reserved. Use with proper credits.



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