Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Light at the End of the Tunnel (01/23/14)
- TITLE: Can a woman forget her suckling child?
By Phillip Cimei
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I imagined how it must have been at the beginning. The nursery was probably filled with pink and blue blanketed babies with their heads warmly capped. Their eyes searching a blurred world for the comfort of mother. Fathers, with noses pressed against the glass, smiled with a look about them that beamed of fishing trips and ball games, dance recitals and proms. Then I would hear crying. Not from a baby, but from a room that had a mother and a father reeling with anguish over the news about their newborn twins.
I envisioned the doctor informing Violet and Delbert, my in-laws, that their premature twins, Darlene and Arlene, were victims of malfunctioning incubators. Darlene received too much oxygen. The corneas of her eyes were damaged. She would be permanently blind. Arlene was deprived of oxygen and was classified as having cerebral palsy.
My wife was five at the time, her brother, David, three. Life would be drastically changed now.
The coming years would take its toll on Delbert. He took the path of alcohol and denial and eventually would die a slow and painful death from throat cancer.
Violet was like the angel waiting at the pool of Bethesda; she lovingly hovered over the twins. She put her faith in God and never even hinted of losing hope or being discouraged. Her jovial spirit and good nature kept them laughing and happy their first few years. Violet would listen to radio preachers, pin prayer cloths on the twin's diapers and have the church anoint them with oil and lay hands on them. Her hope rested on Isaiah 49:15, “Can a woman forget her suckling child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? Yeah, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee.”
When the sympathies and pity of the well wishers wore off, the memories of the cute little poster child with her adorable toothless smile hunched over crutches faded, and the laughing and smiling face of a little blind girl ceased, reality set in.
There were the expensive trips to the Easter Seals Clinic and the Illinois School for the Blind that drained their finances. The endless operations on Arlene's legs that were of no effect and her mind advancing nor more than a three year old. There were the twisted hands and continual rocking; a shaved head to prevent her from pulling her hair out.
Darlene would graduate from the state school for the blind, get married to a blind school mate, have two children and eventually get her master's degree; she is currently working with the blind to make their lives meaningful.
Arlene's life took a different path. After Delbert's death, Violet took jobs at nursing homes to support her and Arlene. Eventually Arlene would have to be placed there due to her continual weight gain and inability of Violet to care for her. At first, Arlene would enjoy our seven children visiting and pushing her down the hallways. She would greet me with her twisted smile and say, “Orange soda.” This was her greatest pleasure in life. Years went by, then decades. Violet died of a massive heart attach. Arlene was unaware. Her mind went first then her kidneys started failing. Now bedridden, she moaned and cried, day in and day out. She was fifty-eight. The pain unmerciful. Her world was kidney operations, kidney stents, bloody urine and morphine. The seventy-five mile trips for dialysis three times a week were too much for her. She finally succumbed.
My wife and I walked into the room and immediately sensed peace. Her smile, now, was like a flower announcing spring. We gave her a “See you later” kiss. Tears and praises flowed freely. Were the “Works of God made manifest,” as Jesus said of the blind man in John 9:3? Absolutely! Finally, she had reached the light with a vibrant youthful body and long flowing auburn hair. She would be greeted by a smiling mother and a loving Savior. I can only imagine Him saying, “Well done Arlene, enter into the joy of the Lord.”
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