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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: First (as in original) (01/10/05)

TITLE: Eva goes to the zoo
By darlene hight


Eva sat across from me arms folded tightly across her chest. She was wearing a look of determined resistance. I found the chip that she was sporting somewhat intriguing. Usually in my job as placement coordinator, my clients are excited about looking for employment. This was our first interview and she wasn’t excited. The initial interview is to assess job interests, discuss job skills and talk about what we will be working on during the placement process. Prior to being introduced to the chip on Eva’s shoulder, I was looking forward to this assignment. Finding jobs for people with disabilities is challenging but fulfilling work. This assignment would definitely be challenging.

Eva, 56 years old, had more skills than most people with whom I worked. In fact, she had been self-supporting up until she endured a cooking accident. While recovering from the severe burn, she lost her job. It’s illegal to fire someone because of a medical emergency. However, people with disabilities often get the fuzzy side of the lollipop. I learned much about rejection and abuses imposed on people with disabilities as I worked with Eva. Compared to many people, Eva’s disability is minor. Before society mandated clever medical descriptors, Eva would have been described as a slow learner.

In spite of Eva and my rough start, we soon developed a mutual respect. Eva began opening up about her life. One particular instance was a turning point in our relationship. Eva told me that her family had put her in an institution. This was a common practice before people knew better. As a matter of course, doctors would often recommend this action to parents with a disabled child. After Eva told me about being institutionalized and what happened next took me completely off guard. It was as if a dam broke. Eva threw herself into my arms weeping uncontrollably. “Why didn’t my family want me?” she asked. I didn’t have an answer for her. The pain in her words cut a path in my heart and from that moment we were bonded.

Our friendship continued long after I found Eva a job. I discovered many things about Eva during this time but the real eye opener came as I discovered how many things she had never experienced. Even though, she had lived independently most of her life. Her focus centered on three things. She had an eighteen- year old son who was in foster care. I suspect that she had little choice in this arrangement. Eva paid child support for her son, Georgie and she was allowed to visit him. Her whole face would light up when she talked about “Georgie”. He was the most important thing to her. The other two things in her life were work and her home. One of the things that Eva had never experienced was mini golf. I played the first round with her and it was a hoot! Her first experience bowling I, also, shared. But the one experience that lives in my memory is Eva’s first trip to the zoo. I can’t begin to adequately describe that trip. The sense of wonder that I experienced through Eva’s eyes is indescribable. When you take a child to the zoo, it is fun to watch them experience things for the first time but sometimes, they become tired, hot and whiny. It was different with Eva. Her sense of wonder increased with every new sight. When we stopped at the flamingo area, she exclaimed, “I’ve never seen a bird that color.” We laughed at the monkeys. It was as if time didn’t exist. We experienced every detail of the zoo. The lions earned an “Oh my!” The train ride ranks as the most fun that I can ever remember having but the highlight of the day was when Eva saw a giraffe for the first time. I heard her take in a deep breath and then quietly, in complete awe she whispered, “ I never thought they were that big!”

I learned many things from Eva but my hope is that I will never forget the lesson from our day at the zoo. Everyday is filled with wonder if you dare to really look for it. To hold onto that sense of wonder as I live my life on this planet that would be an unprecedented gift.

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This article has been read 1077 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Terrific story. It read really well, one of my favorites.
Sally Hanan01/17/05
One of my favorites too, but the ending is a bit curt. It feels like the story has more but has been cut short.
Kathy Cartee01/17/05
Beautiful story. I loved every word.
Tesiri Moweta01/18/05
If we look at the right things we will always get the right things out of life.
Great writing! Very touching, so much to learn about everyday...
Thanks for sharing,
Keep winning and shining for Jesus.
Betty Shattuck01/20/05
I greatly enjoyed your story about Eva. How wonderful you spent so much time, outside of your job, with her. My only suggestion is that your paragraph about the activities with her could be broken up which would make it easier to read. Other than that, it was a great story!
Deborah Anderson01/22/05
I loved your trip to the zoo with Eva. :-) God bless you.
Mitzi Busby01/22/05
Wonderful, everyday IS filled with wonder if we look. Amen
adelina tomino01/23/05
you made me cry.
L.M. Lee01/23/05
isn't it interesting what we learn from the people God places in our lives