Davidge had known some paraplegics over the years, deaf, dumb, and blind, or worse, by the score, one might say. They’ve been from all walks of life in his overall environment. Davidge could not help but wonder at their overall significance. What were their names? Some had escaped his memory over the years. Franny, Patsy, Kelly, Linda. Beautiful women all of them, who didn’t have total use of their faculties, many of them.
Davidge was in awe of them.
Franny had been too deep in a coma for too long, and was confined to an electric wheelchair, damned to never be able to speak or walk again, from the time of her youth. She was a beautiful young woman, too. She learned computer programming, where Davidge tried and failed. Davidge had responded to Franny, in the depth of his heart, with affection and respect. They had been in a computer programming class together. But Davidge washed out. COBAL was too complicated for him, not to mention the social dynamics of the school, and that’s all there was to it. He knew Franny, from having spent better than a month with her in class.
Franny was singularly remarkable.
They’d all be sitting in that stuffy classroom all day, in the hot summer weather at the Maryland Rehabilitation Center on Argonne Drive in Baltimore. The air conditioner in the room was not sufficient for their mutual comfort. Not better than 20 people in one room. It was too many people for the air conditioner. The professor was giving all this heavy information about computers, by the hour upon hour at a time. The tension got so thick you could cut it with a knife. Now, Franny could not talk, but she would sit there and pick up on a statement with some sort of slight double meaning to it, and just start laughing! Her meaning was obvious. The whole class would crack up.
It was a break in the tension we all needed more than once, including the professor.
Her sense of humor was wonderful.
Davidge told her once he was praying she could talk again, that there would be a time in her life that her speech would return some day. There was some other girl, who wasn’t half the stature of Franny, with any kind of backbone to her, anyway. She scoffed at Davidge’s statement, having overheard him telling Franny this sentiment of his. That totally unremarkable individual didn’t think his word was good enough to mean what he said.
She thought he was full of it.
Years later, Davidge went to a public restaurant, and there she was. He was so excited to see her! He spoke to the two women who were with her, told them he knew her, that he had a job and was working. “Franny’s working, too,” they told him. “She finished her classwork and got a programming job!” The news was grand to hear. All Davidge had to do was a delivery driving job. Programming turned out to be a little too tall an order for him. His disability turned out to be severe enough that he couldn’t even keep that little bit of a job, after awhile. It was his mind that was the problem.
Then, there was Patsy. She was a cute little woman in the state hospital, who always used to ask Davidge if she were going berserk. She would say it over and over again, and laugh the most hideous, maniacal laughter, walking with Davidge out in the harsh winter wind, on foot at the state hospital in the dead of winter. It was a laughing academy, and they both knew it.
Patsy was someone who was always one of the untouchables at that state hospital. It’s not clear how the man arrived at that conclusion, but she was definitely not some kind of broad for all the guys to be getting their hands all over her. Patsy wasn’t like that. She was almost like a child in that way.
One could only treat her with respect, if he had any conscience to him at all.
That was a long time ago by now, but Davidge supposed she’s still there in that same state hospital, still going berserk the same old way she always thought she was. She was like a hummingbird in some ways. She was petite, and frail; pretty, and yet unapproachable in so many ways. Davidge never heard her story, though he knew her for many years. Patsy was too vulnerable to tell her own story in those days.
She kept talking about the Rock Star, Pat Benatar, like she was some kind of relation of hers or something. All Davidge could never think of was how to claim any success with anybody, but that he knew the great Carole King and the great James Taylor, when he knew no one of the sort. He was a dropout of some music school somewhere, himself, and had no background of success to brag about with anything, at all. The name for him in the music industry was has been, and it doesn’t even warrant capital letters.
At the place where Davidge met Franny, there was another girl, who was stone blind. She even walked with a white cane. He’s forgotten her name, but she had the most luxurious, chestnut brown hair, was very composed in her demeanor, and always wore the most elegant pair of sunglasses. Davidge kinda lost it over that one, too, and then found out that he was only winning himself a blind wife, if he wanted to pursue the issue with her any further.
The rehab center itself turned out to be too intense for Davidge to handle, all things considered. If he were going to finish COBAL training, the poor guy was going to have to make too many social problems disappear for him in the rehab place, for him to hope to continue with his studies. There were all these hoppers, who would dog him for nickels and dimes, and kept after him to give up the telephone, if he ever dared calling home from the Rehab Center.
Davidge was never very independent, to be able to go to school, without calling home every now and then. When this one hopper got on him enough that he gave away a quarter one weekend, Davidge got so hopping mad at the kid that all he wanted to do was beat the crap out of him.
That would never do.
Davidge had a bad experience in a psych halfway house the year before, and he was in over his head emotionally. He ended up leaving the whole program, not finishing at all. Davidge has always had troubles finishing things he starts. That poor blind girl was just about provoked thoroughly enough to abandon propriety over the amorous young man she knew from her mind’s eye, and with all the dynamics of what was going on with her, Davidge knew he had to get out of there quick.
Blind people don’t have the same mores of behavior that people with sight do. Years later, Davidge was driving a blind man to meetings of the program, and he found that telling off-color jokes to a blind man was not really all that good an idea in the first place. Davidge was having a time of it, trying to figure out how to be himself, and to be singular too.
He was one man who was never really interested in committing matrimony.
The man can’t rightly account for his own behavior with the ladies much, but somehow he has idolized women all his life, and could never find it within himself to make any sort of substantial commitment to any of them. It goes along with having been an abused child, he’s certain of that.
Davidge never felt he could keep a commitment, so he never made one.
He’s only just recently learned how to be nice to a woman without flirting all over the place on them, the whole time the two of them are developing their friendship. Davidge has always had a problem with relationships. He’s not crude or crass, but finds he does not know how to be nice to eligible women. He’s lucked out by this late date in life.
He doesn’t have half the problems he used to have.
The man grew up in a house with a lot of older women living there. His mother, his aunt, his grandmother, his two great aunts. His sister was his best friend. The list goes on and on. He learned to treat women with respect, and learned to keep his hands to himself after he’d been around awhile. When he was a young adult, Davidge was a man of action. In his maturity, Davidge became a man of restraint and reverence toward the ladies. He found himself to be a changed man, in the long run.
Kelly is severely autistic, with a fried communications center in her brain. She is absolutely delightful in many ways, but cannot hope to carry on a coherent conversation of any sort, with anyone. All Kelly can do is ejaculate singular words, as a blurted out expression of something she might want. Those who are taking care of her provide things like… cheese burger… popcorn… hot dog… and the like. Kelly’s not very hard to please, in the overall scope of things. She can even travel with the family, but when it’s time to go home, Kelly is always saying… home… home..
She’s living with her mother, well into her twenties by the time Davidge met her, and has always been uncommunicative, to a large extent. She likes to shake hands with people, and that’s just about the entire repertory of her physical interactions with others. She used to “go to work,” which amounted to going to an adult day treatment center, paid to take care of her, but when her younger sister was always out of work, and was also living at home, herself, Kelly just decided one day that if her sister didn’t have to go to work, she didn’t either. Kelly displayed a little bit of intelligence to assert that little bit of a proposition for herself. Davidge was proud of her.
Then, there’s Linda. Linda is someone Davidge met in assisted living. The story is that Linda was out in a car with her fiance one time, and was in a very violent auto accident. Her body is broken. She is damned to being in a wheelchair for the remainder of her days, and how long that will be is anyone’s guess. Linda is always choking and gagging on her own bodily fluids. She has no clue how to make herself understood by her ole buddy, Davidge. It’s not for lack of trying.
Her neck was obviously broken in the crash, and she has a lot of problems with her breathing, particularly when she eats and drinks. Linda cannot hardly talk at all, with her tongue being unruly, as well as her eyes, effected by the violence of the crash, whatever it was. It looks like the woman has had the worst time of it, just managing to survive, but her spirit won out, and she is alive, indeed! She’s about the same age as Davidge, and for these reasons, Davidge feels a sort of kinship to her.
The point is that Davidge feels a certain kinship with all these people, and has extended an open heart toward all of them. In the dark years of Davidge’s existence, when there were so many difficulties he was having with his own mind, Davidge was indeed very close to becoming a paraplegic himself. His desperation was singular and remarkable in many ways. Davidge has been so monumentally confused and stymied over the years, he marvels at the glory of God in the works of his own life, as with His works with so many others lives.
The fact that he has survived, even thrived in his own illness, and only needs a minimum of amount of assistance, living in an assisted living environment, is nothing short of miraculous, as is the fact that he’s survived at all, much less for as long as he has, considering his many serious problems throughout his lifetime. It is not the scope of this document to drive that point home.
This is the thread of the basic idea, between himself and all the other unfortunate people he’s met throughout his modest, but rewarding walk in life. The man has a significant gratitude to God in his very precarious experience in life. How he’d ever have found the strength to get through the many difficulties he’s been faced with is beyond his own comprehension and vocabulary.