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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Right and Left (07/31/14)

TITLE: Damaged
By Gary Ritter
08/04/14


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I am damaged.

It didnít happen at birth. My mother delivered me as a healthy baby, the second of five children. I progressed normally until at the age of nine months I got a cold. Instead of moving elsewhere in my body, the infection attacked my brain. The doctors put me on antibiotics and did all they could to arrest the illness, but the harm was done. The infection targeted the soft spot of my brain, which hadnít yet hardened and become resistant. It left me damaged. In the language of the day, I was retarded.

From that time onward I was different. Before, I was happy and an easy child to care for. After, nothing could please me. I became difficult because I could no longer learn and adapt. My mental acuity slowed down; everything frustrated me. My behavior worsened. I became more than my parents could handle. They didnít know what to do or where to turn.

By the time I was five they decided I needed to be institutionalized. Thatís what families did with people like me in those days. With great reluctance and many tears my parents put me in a place where broken children grew into stunted adults; where the long, antiseptic, green hallways became my playpen; the constant screams and yells became my lullabies; and the workers did their jobs with little concern for the underdeveloped human beings in their care. My parents visited me periodically, but because I couldnít bond, my speech was limited, and my abilities minimal, their visits meant little to me.

There came a day after several years when my parents removed me from that home. We drove a couple days to arrive at a medical clinic where doctors in their white lab coats began testing me in a variety of ways. When they had completed their studies, we drove back. I was given a bedroom in my parentsí house, and they began working with me.

The theory the doctors had was that having me recreate the movements of an infant could repair the cells in my brain. Babies as they grow crawl on their bellies, then creep on their hands and knees. They experience tactile sensations and have a world of stimulating inputs that cause them to develop. My parents and my siblings old enough to help began this regimen.

They patterned me five times a day. Taking three to five people they replicated the crawling motion moving my head, hands, and legs five minutes at a time, alternating my limbs right and left. They made me crawl two hours a day, and creep another two hours. My mother and many volunteers spent hours working through mental stimulation exercises. This was my life, and that of my family every single day for three years. Their devotion and perseverance helped me significantly. Their love and sacrifice knew no bounds, especially that of my mother. But my mental capacity grew to no more than that of a five-year-old, which continues to be my limitation.

Following these years of intense effort, my parents were able to enroll me in a specialized school. Because my physical abilities had improved, believe it or not, I learned to drive a tractor. In my later years I had the good fortune of living in a group home with companions similar to me, and terrific houseparents. To this day that is where I reside.

My parents are quite elderly now and my housemother drives me to their apartment every week. I watch out for them.

One time my brother was talking with my parents. They were talking about faith and religion. I always liked going to church, so I listened. Although I comprehend more than people think, I canít communicate well. One thing I know is that Jesus died for me, and He loves me.

My brother asked my parents about how they had dealt with me when it came to prayer. They told him they had prayed for me regularly, and I was glad for that.

There was a question my brother asked. Their answer stunned him. As you can tell, Iím a simple person. I wish I understood the implication. I donít.

At one point they took me to a renowned faith healer. Nothing happened. I was unchanged. Why did they go? A friend suggested it. But as my mother told my brother: ďWe didnít believe heíd be healed.Ē

I wish I knew: would faith have made the difference?

==================

Note: Written fictionally; true story.


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This article has been read 74 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Brenda Rice 08/08/14
This is an incredible story. You have or had great parents who never gave up on you.

You handled the topic well. The question at the end is profound.

Well written.
CD Swanson 08/09/14
Thank you for sharing your story with us. It is heartwarming and poignant to see how wih God in your corner, you've overcome the odds...and proved them all wrong.

You see where you wrote this part: Although I comprehend more than people think, I canít communicate well. One thing I know is that Jesus died for me, and He loves me. I disagree with one thing in your statement...you CAN communicate well as this well written and powerfully moving story attests.

And, of course most important...Jesus died for us...and He loves us.

His light shines through your work and your message!

Fantastic work. Excellent job with this...

May God continue to Bless you abundantly~

Phillip Cimei 08/09/14
I am blown away.

I think this is the most compelling story I have read in a long time.

I could not stop reading. I said to myself, this has to be fiction.

I want to learn from you. Your courage, your faith, your tenacity.

What an outstanding piece.

You made an old man cry.


This is a winner to me!

God bless and I will be looking for more work from you.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 08/11/14
Wow this is a powerful piece. It tugged at my heart. My oldest brother had a similar journey. I know Mom agonized over institutionalizing him. He died MO the before his third birthday. I think almost everyone will be able to relate in this one way or the other.

I struggled seeing the topic. Of course, I do see it in the one spot where the family gave crawling lessons, but didn't see it as an essential part of the story. The other thing I struggled with was the voice of the MC. Though you state that he understands more than people think, you still were quite clear that he struggled understanding some things so the voice sounded much older and refined than the age that trapped him.

With that said, that's why there is a term literary licence. You do have the right to stretch things a bit in order to showcase your message. Oh and that message is amazing! The last line is nothing short of sheer genius. I do understand why you chose to tell it in the first person instead of third. It made the reader feel like they were peeking I to this precious baby's heart, and in his heart, he could be all that God intended--a lesson to many about perseverance. This is a compelling read and I enjoyed it more than I can ever say. You need to take this and make sure as many people as possible hear this message. I could even see it unfolding as a novel. This story has the ability to change the world. Thank you for sharing it. You touched my heart in so many ways.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 08/13/14
I didn't mention this before, but since you said it was based on a true story, I read it again and really want to encourage you to enter the testimony contest. You have a wonderful way with words and whatever your testimony is, I've no doubt it'll be super powerful.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 08/14/14
Congratulations on ranking 3rd in your level and 26 overall. The highest rankings can be found on the message boards.
CD Swanson 08/15/14
Congrats!

God bless~
Brenda Rice 08/15/14
Congrats on your placement. I enjoyed your entry very, very much.
Pauline Carruthers 08/18/14
Moved to tears. Beautifully written. This left me praising God for a truly stunning testimony.