Cyndy had always been throughout her life, a very pleasant happy-go-lucky child, despite being plagued with often numerous of health problems at such a very young age in life. For the most part of her life, she was no different from any other normal child she had the same emotions and wants of any other youngster of her age. Cyndy had her ways of showing the unconditional love of Christ to everyone she met through being a very affectionate and compassionate child, and she loved to play with anyone that showed her their friendly caring heart, that would stop and give her attention. When I look back on Cyndy's life reminiscing over the memories of her, my thoughts are of someone who was highly inquisitive, obstinate, playful, and courageous with a life full of unlimited affection to share with ones around her. Just like all other children, she knew how to push her boundaries to the extreme to get whatever she wanted. In some ways, she was as if she was a cuddly infant stuck in a teenage body where she just did not want to grow up, yet she really did not know any difference either.
Cyndy wanted to remain as a baby, as long as she possibly could, really, she had the IQ of an infant and never got to function much higher. She actually yearned for the security of baby items, at times, I wondered if she may have liked the passionate feeling of baby items and their scent. Cyndy had a fascination with the kanga-rock-a- roo infant seats, she was constantly strapping her self in them, and then she would rock in them until her heart was content.
With Cyndy's attraction to baby items, she would even kick her younger brothers and sister out of their stroller seats, so she could climb in herself. Her younger siblings were not always thrilled about her antics, but Cyndy never intended to be ugly to them, she was just a delightful baby at heart herself. She wanted so much to be like a precious little baby herself that she would grab her younger sibling's baby bottles and high chairs too! Mark and I still remember a time that she was not too thrilled about sleeping in a big girl's bed instead of a crib that she got angry with her baby brother and wanted to toss him out of the crib. We honestly thought that she would rather have a bed, since she could more easily climb out of it yet, for some reason or other Cyndy just preferred sleeping in cribs. The only time we can remember that she did not like the cribs was when she was in the hospital because she would have to work hard to get the bubble top off so she could climb out and run. She had always been a baby girl at heart!
Cyndy was one that would demand complete eye contact from any one that she would meet or who would let her climb on their laps or of the ones, she dearly loved that would stop and play the game patty-cake with her. Over the years I had notice countless of times that when Cyndy would want to play patty cake or wanted to name the parts of her face, she would look at me directly in the eye and coo loudly along with gesturing for me to sit down, and let her to climb on my lap. If I did not give her the eye contact, she had expected, or if I were happening to be looking at something else, she would take her hand and turn my face around to her, where there would be complete eye contact. If she were not turning my head around, she would lean around in my lap and coo loudly trying to look at me directly into my eyes. I often had wondered how Dr. White could void giving her direct eye contact, when she would demand of him to give her complete eye contact. I found out after she died that he would try to void eye contact, but she would give him those sad puppy dog eyes forcing him to look at her in the eye. Getting absolute eye contact from most children with the severe handicaps that Cyndy had usually is very unheard of.
Cyndy's fondness for the nursery game patty-cake did not waver in any way over the eleven years! Cyndy would grip our hands with a very strong hold on them, and then she would be adamant about wanting us to play patty cake with her. Once Cyndy would get us to play patty-cake with her, she would want to play patty-cake until our arms, and hands drop off. When Cyndy would have seizures and when they would end, she would want to play patty cake with the doctors, nurses, teachers, and us, to let all of us know that she was going to be okay. With Cyndy, wanting to play patty-cake once her seizure would end had been a practical solution to our prayers, we knew she was going to be fine when she would take our hands and play patty cake. Cyndy was good about not wanting to take our hands to play patty-cake until she knew that in her mind that she was going to be all right. Her next favorite thing after patty-cake when she had a seizure was her naming the parts of her face, she always wanted to name them to whoever was around letting them know that she was ready to get up and go now that the seizure was over. It was no stopping her once the seizure was over, she would go back to doing, whatever she was doing before the seizure.
Cyndy was known as a curious hyperactive child, that if I had brought any type or sizes of boxes to use for storage, she would strongly assume I had brought her them. She genuinely believed that I had brought her the biggest and best toy ever; you would have positively assumed I had taken her to the candy store and turned her loose, inside the store. I would have her toys in a box in the hallway or living room; she would take all her toys out of the toy box and climbed in. The only bad thing was she would not put her toys back in the crate. Cyndy loved the boxes more than the toys at times. It did not matter what size they were she would try climbing into it. The bigger the box the happier she was. There was one time that she fell fast asleep inside her large toy box that holds her toys, I ended up putting pillows and blankets in there to make it comfortable leaving her there peacefully for her afternoon nap.
If I had gotten a cardboard or a plastic carton to store some individual items in, I better not have let Cyndy see me with it. Cyndy's eyes and ears must have been very sharp because she seemed to have known when I was packing or emptying a container when she was asleep, still no matter what I did to try to stay quiet as possible still she heard me. When I would put Cyndy's toys in to a toy box to keep them all together, she would come behind me and empty the toys back out, then play inside the box for hours. With me even trying to put her toys, back in the box before she went to sleep at night proved useless because she always was going to win.
Like many inquisitive hyperactive special handicapped children similar to Cyndy, love boxes it did not matter whether they were plastic or cardboard! The wheels in their brain turn fast as their imaginations runs furious, on the significant issues of how large or small, the box may be, identical to Cyndy, they are going to climb into them, even if the container is too small or too large. Our three dearly loved cats often remind me of Cyndy when I would empty a cardboard box, they would quickly occupy it sometimes when the things aren't out of the carton completely, and they would have already occupied it yet, Cyndy was the same way. A flood of memories comes to mind of her, whenever I get boxes, then the tears would start to fly at times in view of that I know it would have been just a matter of time before she would be after them.
When it came to foods that Cyndy would never pass up were macaroni and cheese and baked potatoes were her most favorites. Cyndy was always first one to the table, if she got to the dining table before the others she just might even try to swipe the others' delicious food if they were not fast enough coming to the dinner table. Those of us that sat beside her had to be on our toes always, or else she might have gotten our food and would have eaten it up before we knew that she had taken our yummy food. Cyndy was the happiest, whenever she would get her mom to feed her. She knew how to feed herself in the most appropriate way, but there were times that she felt lazy and wanted someone else to wait on her, yet Cyndy would grab my hand and coo at me, and then she would forcefully guide my hand with a fork full of food to her mouth. While she was being fed her meal, she loved to play airplane, when we would take the fork or spoon and make the motor noises and aim for her mouth while all along the way, she would laugh. Foods she did not like, she would sneak it to the cat under the table, all though sometimes the cat did not care for the food, either, but Cyndy did not care-- she would just put it down there any way! If she didn't like what food you were trying to feed her no matter what game you tried to play to get her to eat it just would not work she would turn and give you the raspberry.
Not only was Cyndy extremely curious over what she could get into, she also liked to see how things were put together. She had a mind like an engineer—taking things apart to see how they worked, and she would sometimes try to put back together what she has taken apart. One year at Christmas, she decided to take all the decorations off the Christmas tree, I presume she was anxious to see how the Christmas tree was put together! She had been unusually quite that afternoon when I went to see what she was doing, I peeked from around the corner from the kitchen to see what she was up to, and there she was quietly grabbing the sorted Christmas ornaments off the tree and piling them into a chair. Cyndy was so cute how she was trying ever so hard not to make a noise, yet each ball, she took off the tree would catch her eye that she would stop and turn the ball all sorts of ways to see the beauty of the Christmas ball before laying it down in the chair. I couldn't help but to grab the camera and get a candid picture of her taking the shiny balls off the tree. She assumed she was doing me a favor. I believe she would have pulled down the entire tree if I had not caught her and stopped her. Even so, she loved Christmas; the tree had to be adorning with many little small lights that shine throughout the tree. The lights mesmerized her how they would even shine against the balls giving a sparkling appearance. We had to put plenty of lights on the tree, or else she wouldn't be happy. The bright colored balls nestled in the middle of tinsel would catch her attention that she would be awestruck by the brightness and colors on the tree. If she wasn't undressing the tree, Cyndy loved the gifts under the tree that if she shook the box that would make a noise she would grab the gift from under the tree and unwrap it before we known she had done it.
If Cyndy wasn't looking for something to take a part, she would head for her room where she couldn't stand for her clothes to be neatly placed in the dresser drawers. She would empty out of her dresser drawers and climb into the drawers. No matter how many times I would tidily put the clothes back in the drawers, she relentlessly would come behind me taking the clothes back out of the drawers and climbing into the drawers herself. With Cyndy around there was never a dull moment, she would keep you amazed at the things she would do at times, like when she had been placed in her wooden playpen—but wanted to be at the other side of the room—she would stick her foot out of the playpen and push until she got to her destination. She was the only one of our children that figured out how to move the playpen across the room to where ever she wanted to go. There was no stopping her or keeping her out of anything. She was going obviously to find her way to get or have whatever her little heart desired.
Cyndy would keep us in stitches all day long. There were those times I would hear her clapping her hands and talking very loudly, with knocking against the window; I knew then she was up to something. Many times, I would find her stark naked in her window! Sometimes not quick, enough to get her out of the window before a neighbor would call and tell me to look up in the window. Cyndy at times just had no modest about herself. She did not care if she was butt naked up into the window. Cyndy acted when she was in the window as if she was proud of what she had and she wanted the world to see what she had. So if Cyndy was not pulling her clothes off and up in the window she was pulling her clothes out of the dresser.
When Cyndy graduated from the infant program she went into the handicapped preschool program where she was a typical child, pushing the boundaries as far as she possibly could. One of the teachers that worked with Cyndy the last year of preschool had told her that she must stay in the classroom during school. She put a rug at the door of the classroom, to set limits with Cyndy letting her know just how far she could go without escaping from the classroom. Well, Cyndy learned that all she would have to do was just push her chair closer to the door, push the rug outside the room, and take off running down the hall! Cyndy would keep her teachers busy while she was at school. There was never any rest for the weary when Cyndy was around! If Cyndy wasn't keeping Dr. White busy at the hospital when she was there as a patient, she would also keep him on his toes at school when he would be at school doing physicals on the other children. If Cyndy had a seizure at school, while Dr. White happen to be there, he and the nurse would go running down the hall to give her aid making sure she came through the seizure alright. She knew how to tug at his strings and make him come running for her weather at school or at the hospital.
Cyndy had a special chair at school, and one of the chairs was sent home for her use. While still strapped in the chair, Cyndy would rock until she was able to get up and walk with the chair on her back! It just was no use to put her into the chair because she just was not going to sit still. She was going to be up and carrying that chair strapped to her back around the house.
The last year of preschool for Cyndy, she was chosen to play Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer in her class part of the Christmas play at school. Her teacher had sat on the floor next to Cyndy when she had given Cyndy a bell to ring, when all of suddenly when the teacher let go of the bell to let Cyndy ring the bell she threw the bell across the stage and took her horns off her head trying to get out of her chair. That night if she was not trying to take things off, she was escaping her seat and running across the stage. She was a strong-willed child, but you could not help but to love her. She just had so much life and excitement, not even her illness could take that away from her.
Another one of Cyndy's most pleasurable pride and joy possessions that she loved tremendously was her little red wagon that brought happiness and comfort to her. When Cyndy was not feeling well or would have a seizure she would want to climb into her wagon, which would double as her bed during the day, also that wagon was the most superb way of calming her down when she was extremely hyperactive. At naptime, she would grab a pillow and cushion from the sofa, crawl in her wagon, and take her nap. We often thought if we would have made a wagon her bed, Cyndy would have been one of the happiest children on earth.
You wouldn’t think that Cyndy would be able to manipulate her environment to get what she wants, but really, she had the ability to do so very well. Cyndy had her smarts about herself of making others feel sorry for her when she would climb into her wagon, sit there, and pout until someone came along and would pull her around in the yard, if she were lucky enough she would get them to pull her around infinitely. When any of us would get tired of pulling her around our neighborhood, she would give us those sad puppy dog eyes and making us feel sorry that we had to stop pulling her around. I do not think Cyndy ever got tired of riding! She knew also how to persuade her younger sister and her older brother and younger brother to pull her around the back yard in her wagon. They would get so tired of pulling her around that they would let go of the wagon and would walk away fussing at her, yet, Cyndy knew just how to get them to come back and pull her some more. With her antics, she knew all she would have to do was start cooing loudly or sometimes crying causing me to come out and see what they were doing to her. Her brothers and sister learned very quickly that if Cyndy cried Mom would come out and fuss at them for picking on her casing them to pull her some more even when they were so tired of pulling her.
When Cyndy went for wagon rides, she wanted the ride to go on for eternally, she also knew who would pull her in the wagon until her heart was content. She loved to go to Grand Bobbie and Gaga's house because she knew that Grand Bobbie would pull her around their yard and the neighbor's yard until the cows came home. Cyndy also knew how to butter up my brother Jimmy, when he would be there at our parent's house, he would pull her around also when Grand Bobbie would tire out and need a rest from being exhausted from pulling her around so long. Even to this day, when Mark Jr. has Cyndy on his mind, he will tease the day lights out of me about the cows coming home. Cyndy must have known her sense of direction because she would become extremely excited when we would get close to my parent's house. She must have known the way to my parents because all we had to do was get on Route 460, she would start cooing loudly and clapping her hands.
Cyndy's tenderness and love for people had a way to winning the hearts or her teachers she also pulled at the heartstrings of her bus drivers. She would blow kisses to the bus drivers while showing them a sweetest smile when they raised her up on the lift. Cyndy's teachers and bus drivers just loved her back and were very protective of her. The only thing that the drivers of the buses didn't like was that Cyndy had a way of getting out of her seat belts, no matter what restraint they used to hold her in her seat Cyndy would find her way out of the restraints. Sometimes when the transportation department would come up with a new idea how to keep her, restrain it would, take days for her cleverly learn how to get out of the new restraint. However, eventually, the bus drivers and teachers would have to go back to the drawing board and put their heads together and come up with new ideas. One time after the teachers and bus drivers came up with a plan that they had fixed the problem since it had been awhile since she had gotten out of the seat belt, Cyndy surprised the bus driver when she had come and gotten behind the bus driver blowing kisses to her while the bus was still in motion! She scared her bus driver to death that day. Cyndy earned the snappy nickname “Houdini” from one bus driver because of her escape artist ways.
As much as Cyndy liked getting into things, she also liked getting out of them! Cyndy nearly threw my parents, brother Jimmy, and his wife Toni, Cathy, and her husband Patrick into a panic when they could not find her one day, while they were keeping her and her brothers and sister for a weekend to let Mark and I have time to ourselves. My parents and the rest of the family members were looking all over the house and had gone up and down the street looking for Cyndy when my parent’s neighbor had found her on their porch happily playing on their swing. Yet when my family had found Cyndy they were relieved that they found her safely but she gave all the family the look of she wasn’t lost, she merely wanted to play on Pearl’s swing on her porch.
Another time when Cyndy had put me into sheer panic and scared me to death was when I had come home from a doctor’s appointment and had taken Joel out of our car first and brought him into the house. When I had returned to the car to get Cyndy, she had already gotten out of the car and was nowhere in sight, sent me into a tizzy. The scare that she had given to me, I could not breathe or speak to tell the neighbors what was happened to me. When our neighbors Steve and Kathy tried to get out of me what had happened, I manage finally to get the words out to them, that I could not find Cyndy. When the neighbors realized that Cyndy was missing, they all quickly helped me find her by going all in different directions looking to see if they saw her. When I came back in the house to call the police since she was nowhere in sight, I had spotted her sitting peacefully on the couch looking at me like what was my problem. Apparently, Cyndy thought she was helping me by getting out of the car on her own when she had slipped past me, and had come into the house and sat on the couch. Cyndy scared me to death that day so severe that she brought me to my knees thanking the Lord for letting us find her secure and no harm brought to her.
Even the hospital staff could barely keep up with Cyndy. One time, she actually made it out of a secured crib and got into the elevator before the nurses even noticed she was gone! When we got the call from the nurses and Dr. White, that Cyndy had gotten out of the crib and they found her on the elevator, Mark and I candidly thought they were kidding. You would have honestly believed that a secured crib with a bubble top bolted tightly on would have kept her or frankly any child in the crib. WRONG! They the medical staff and we the parents were ever so mistaken! Cyndy managed obviously to use her engineer brain to find a different way to get that bubble top a loose and get out of the crib. With her mental handicaps, no one would have positively assume she would have the know how to wriggle the top off the crib and climb out, yet sneak past the nurses, and get on an elevator. Cyndy use to always tell on herself when she was up to mystery by cooing so noisily and clapping her hands, stomping her feet as if she had conquered the world. Cyndy knew how to pull the wool over our eyes. The doctors and nurses knew by watching Cyndy to know just when she was feeling well enough that she could go home and not get into trouble again too soon. When Cyndy was exceptionally sick, she would stay in the crib, nevertheless, once she was feeling better, there was no keeping her down. She would have her way to sweet talk Dr. White into taking her out of the crib and carrying her around until she was sleepy or had fallen to sleep on him. By the way, He was one more person, I have a feeling she would hoodwink into pulling her around in the wagon. Hey Dr. White, that was yours and the hospital's fault since you are the ones that got her hooked on wagons. He told me while another one of Mark’s my children were in the hospital that the nurses put her in the wagon and he will pull her around on the hospital floors while making his rounds.
Cyndy would also keep the deacons at our church on their toes. Deacons like the late Bill Tuck would take her for walks during the service to try to settle her down. She would tire Bill out, yet she gave him company while he was doing his deacon duties. She kept Bill busy playing patty cake and would climb on him and want him to carry her around where ever he went. Cyndy brought a completely new meaning to the deacon’s role of servant! There was never a dull moment in our household, school, or hospital or church, when she was around. Only Cyndy could think up some of the things she would do.
Cyndy could also be very mature and focused if she wanted to be. She participated in the Special Olympics, and won many first place ribbons for the 10-meter run. She would also do the beanbag throw, but her favorite was running. She would laugh while running—it was truly a beautiful sight to watch. The year before she died, I was honored to run a race with Cyndy, even though I had just had surgery just weeks earlier. I was still somewhat sore but wanted to help Cyndy run the ten-meter run. Mark and I really enjoyed and looked forward to going to the Special Olympics to see Cyndy participate each year. She was always a joy to watch—running, clapping her hands, and cooing happily. We really missed going to see her in the Special Olympics after she went to be with the Lord.
As Cyndy aged, she needed to have surgery on her legs, to assist in gradually to improve her gait along with keeping her walking as long as we possibly could, she needed to briefly rest in bed, yet she could not do it. As soon as the sleepy med's wore off she wanted to get up--off the weights went that were on her legs! God did have mercy on us the time after her first surgery on her legs when she heard Dr. Garrison and knew his voice, she wanted up to greet him right then! She was sleeping and all he did was looked in on her and asked how she was doing and her eyes popped open out of the bed she went. It took about six nurses to put her back in that bed. Well, after that escapade she made sure that we could not leave the hospital unit after anymore during that stay. The nurses ended up getting us snacks, drinks, and our meals to keep us from leaving and chancing her getting out of bed pulling her weights off her legs anymore.
Some of our cherish possessions that we graciously receive over the years that have a compound effect on us, we compassionately hold them close to our hearts for all our life. The same as for Cyndy over the eleven years of Cyndy's life, from birth to her death, she had cherished a yellow stuffed teddy bear that played “Jesus Loves Me”, we had given it to her as one of her presents for her first Christmas. She and that bear became inseparable, over the eleven years of her short life, she slept with the bear and carried it to school with her and along with taking that old faithful yellow teddy bear with her on numerous of hospital stays, she used the bear sooth her uncertainties that had been bestowed on her.
Cyndy would bring much joy and laugher to the ones around her and us, on how she would merely carry that yellow teddy bear by the ear, wherever she went. There was rarely a time that we would see her hold or carry the bear any other way except by the ear with her pincher grasp. If Cyndy was sick or in need of an injection, the nurses had to give one to Cyndy, and the yellow bear was given a realistic injection also. If Cyndy got an ice cream, or was given fluids to drink when she was sick, the nurse's also would put a straw to the bear's mouth to encourage Cyndy to drink. Cyndy would come to us countless of times during the day with the bear in hand for us to wind up, or before she would go to sleep for a nap or retire for the night.
While going down memory lane with Dr. White recently concerning that yellow bear, I asked him how he remembered seeing her carry the bear. His response was that he would see her either carry it close to her heart holding it still by its ear. Another way he remembered was that either she was dragging it by its ear close to the floor, or even so, she always no matter what had to have that bear with her.
About a month before she died, that yellow teddy bear that Cyndy loved so much stopped playing, and Cyndy became very devastated over her teddy bear friend no longer playing Jesus Loves Me to her. With the yellow teddy bear broken, Cyndy could not be consoled when we gave her another bear to take its place; nevertheless, still that yellow bear was her pride and joy. She would bring that bear to us to be wound up even when we had told her that it was broken. When the bear would be handed back to her not wound up she would cry her heart out. Her last Christmas with us, Cyndy had been given a Pooh bear that also played “Jesus Loves Me,” but it just was different to her, she wanted a cuddy yellow bear like the one she had, or she wanted her soft yellow bear fixed. Sometimes I have thought that she might have known the difference even if we would have given her a carbon copy of the yellow teddy bear if she had rejected that because it was not the bear she has had since birth. May be the angels were singing her to sleep in the bear's place.
Yet, something very strange had happened with that bear while it was in the casket the day before her funeral. Unexpectedly, after the yellow bear had been broken for some time it begun playing again. Maybe the angels had wound it up to let us know that she was fine. I have strongly considered about how Cyndy loved that old broken teddy bear. With her being handicapped, if she knew the obvious difference in handicapped and non-handicapped, by rejecting that bear would have been like how many people have rejected her on account of her differences. Maybe in her own way if she was telling us when we reject ones like her, we are rejecting her. Christ loved Cyndy due to who she was, not what she would have been like had she not been handicapped.
Cyndy had a stubborn nature, which is probably why she hung onto life as long as she did. She surely enjoyed her life even though she was sick for most of the time. She lived her life to the fullest. Since she always trusted that we would care for her, Cyndy possessed this amazing childlike faith. Even today, I wish I had that kind of faith and trust that my heavenly Father is taking care of me.
No wonder Christ said in the gospels that He wanted the children to come sit in His lap. Christ loved the children. In the gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke He tells the people to bring the children to Him. Christ tells us that we need to be like children in order to inherit the Kingdom of God.
Matthew 19:13-15 (ESV)
“Then children were brought to him that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples rebuked the people, but Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” And he laid his hands on them and went away.”
Mark 10:13-16 (ESV)
“And they were bringing children to him that he might touch them, and the disciples rebuked them. But when Jesus saw it, he was indignant and said to them, "Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” And he took them in his arms and blessed them, laying his hands on them.”
Luke 18:15-17 (ESV)
“Now they were bringing even infants to him that he might touch them. And when the disciples saw it, they rebuked them. But Jesus called them to him, saying, "Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it."
Thank you, Lord, for all the funny things we remember about our children and the memories that You give us to remember them. When we feel down, we can rejoice when we think about our children and how they would keep us going. Thank you for showing us their love and Your love through these memories. May we be like children and come to You.
In Christ’s name, A Men
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