About 40 years ago as a sixteen year old kid I found myself sitting in a ward of a Hospital known for special cases. I had been suffering with a knee that would just give out without warning as well as keeping me up at nights. So there I was at the A I Dupont Hospital ,fifty miles from home and left behind with about twenty or so kids with a variety of problems. Needless I say some were very severe .
I probably got my first lesson on being humble right there. I was not sure why or what I was doing here, I was not aware of the brevity of my condition. On the outside I look liked a normal sixteen year old street kid. I was already smoking a pack a day and getting High almost daily. I would say this was not a very good time for my parents on many fronts with me. I had blown up the engine on my car the week before I ended up here, the car was packed with kids and other things I will leave out. I thought I was a bad surfer dude who would party on a dime and surf rather then go to school.
There I was in this ugly ward ,one TV for the Twenty of us. Kids moaning all night long. The Kid behind me would tap on the window non stop , I got in trouble with the nurses cause I would taunt him, I know shame on me. The guy next to me was from Palestine ,His face was just a melted mess caused by a car bomb, he would play the clarinet even though his face was painful. By the Third Day I could look at his face and talk to him without showing how disturbed I felt . It took some time for me to get over him. The hospitals of the sixties and Seventies were not a place of comfort in those days. Everything was Drab ,everything
Now there was this young fellow three beds down from me. They had run a eye bolt in his skull and one in his tail bone and kept the traction on his spine. He was in constant pain. He had a sister that would come and visit him everyday, she was around my age, maybe a little older. I could tell it was eating her heart up seeing her little brother . She noticed me and came over. I remember her hair was blond and long and she was very pretty. I can’t remember her name though and I wish I did. I think for two weeks we both helped each other out just talking. I felt a little unnerved with the only thing hiding my masculinity was one of those open in the back gowns. Although I think Romance was the last thing on our minds, we just wanted to escape this place. escape our situation. Mine being stranded from home and my friends and Her from her poor brother.
After my surgery they moved me to another ward and pushed me out the door a week later. I did not see her till the moment I left the hospital to go home with mom and dad. I did not hug her or say goodbye, I acted like I see you later, of course that was not likely . I was so consumed by my self and wanting to light up that cigarette I been waiting for , I total missed the opportunity to touch her one last time. As I look back at that time,it saddens me that I was so callous .
I don’t understand how we pass each other on our journey, what moves us together, what pulls us away. When we pull away from someone ,How do they feel , where they let down . Did I let this young girl down. I don’t even know what stirs up memories like this , why did I think of her this morning. Did Her soul stir me somehow.
I learned allot from those experiences. I certainly pick up some attitudes about the importance of life from some of those kids. I learned the heartache of being self-adsorbed . I hope and pray that the Young girl of that time had a wonderful life after she got through that, and Her Brother was able to have a normal life when they got through with him.