Early Practice


While our grandchildren are not regular steeplechase racers, our older son runs or uses the elliptical seven days a week. Leaving his home at o’dark hundred, his dedication to early practice has earned my admiration, actually my envy!

Going back to July, 1950, I was put in a very different type of early practice when my concerned parents insisted the local doctor do a spinal tap on me in his office. Yes, it was 1950, and many tests were done on site with results given within minutes.

The immediate diagnosis – polio – resulted in my car ride directly to Vassar Brothers Hospital in Poughkeepsie, New York. My first early practice dealt with separation from my parents. They lived 50 miles, pre-Interstate miles, you understand, from Vassar. Rigid visitation hours were 3-5 and 7-9 on Saturdays and Sundays. I vaguely remember two or three Wednesday evening (7-9) visits, but weekends were greatly anticipated by this four-year-old. That warm July day, my parents left me in a long, narrow room with 19 others polio patients. No other was a child. Due to the epidemic that summer, the hall held six other patients, each in an iron lung. The doctor offered my parents only the hope that I would never walk again, except with the aid of double crutches and braces.

For me, early practice with suffering had more to do with emotions than with pain. It would be years before I could deal with my sometimes irrational fear of going to an unknown place alone. Consider the origin of your early suffering; it may shed insights you haven’t yet processed.

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6 thoughts on “Early Practice

  1. I was told that we were at your house for the weekend before you were diagnosed, and my parents were full of anxiety for both you and my brother and myself . I have faint memories of you being home and being strapped into a pink brace, corset thing. That must have been much later. We must be very thankful for the fact that our grandchildren will never have to go through what you have. Love you♥️

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    • Dear Nancy, Dave and I are traveling from Augusta, GA (home of Becky’s parents) to Statesboro, GA. Becky’s LAST chemo is this Tuesday, so we all (her folks too) plan to be at the infusion center to celebrate!

      A friend of mine encouraged me to share some of what suffering has meant to me and how it has shaped who I am. That, along with Becky’s journey since April, are driving my blogging.

      Your memory of events jogs my thoughts. Thanks! Your parents were anxious, but they never ostracized my mom. She told me (when I was in my 20s) about “friends” who walked on the other side of the street when Mom passed. Others called to yell at my folks for having allowed their children to play with me. My parents had no indication that I had polio. The local doc was convinced I had strep throat. Only Honey Baker maintained the same relationship w/ mom and dad, a fact mom appreciated all her life.

      Fast forward from July 1950, when I went into the hospital to January 1951, when I came home. I had a pink corset that covered me from under my arms to my hips. I had to wear it to kindergarten and remember being embarrassed that I couldn’t run like others on the playground. I gave mom lots of grief for having to wear it; I was thrilled when I got rid of the corset by the end of 3rd grade

      And, yes, it’s so good that our grands don’t have to worry about polio!

      Love, Flo

      On Sat, Jan 6, 2018 at 6:18 AM wind in the woods wrote:

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      • Hope everything goes great for Becky, I’m sure it has been quite a trial for everyone. Stay warm, we, as you have heard have been freezing up here, and no Sint Maarten this year. We are heading to the inn at Little Washington March 8&9 to celebrate 50. The place in St Marten where we were going to celebrate is no more. Cannot complain, the poor restaurant owner has no more home or business! We all are meeting in Boston next weekend to celebrate 70! How did we get so old? Larry turned 72 in December. So far so good, good health. Keep in touch, take care ♥️♥️, Nancy

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  2. Perspective / reflection is a gift God has given you, and now you have shared with me / us. Thank you. Do you ever wonder who and what you would be (the inside Flo) had it not been for this hardship? Most profound insight: “suffering had more to do with emotions than with pain”. I know this reality by study of lives I’ve been blessed / burdened to know. I will carry the thought with me as I pray for others.

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    • Dear Letha, You, as always, raise questions that make me reflect. Thanks for doing that.

      Age, suffering, increasing limitations physically, rereading of familiar biblical passages, hymns, olds and new, and two recent deaths of children (18 and 24) whose parents were part of the College and Career group Dave and I held in the 80s and early 90s, have brought together some thoughts that have been mulling for years.

      A friend with whom I taught several Bible studies has prodded me to restart my blog, so I am trying to get some key ideas written.

      I don’t remember actually asking the “What if” about myself. I do remember, however, being very frustrated that my patient dad could not teach me to ice skate. I simply didn’t have the leg or ankle strength.

      However, when our first grandchild was in her porch swing at about 9 months of age, (She’s now 10), I pushed her gently and prayed the Lord would keep her healthy, that she’d never know something as terrible as polio. Almost immediately I asked the Lord’s forgiveness. He had used my life’s crucible for His purposes. Who was I to make the request I’d made for Austyn Grace? I remember who was potter and who was clay.

      I believe, as you’ve seen in those you’ve ministered to, that emotional response often has the greater power in suffering. Turning inward, though intense pain can drive out virtually all else, proves deadly. Looking to hymns, scripture, the prayer requests of others, the beauty in God’s world, hampers “navel gazing,” the self-centeredness that keeps the focus on my situation.

      After I wrote about Sufferings’ Songs, I got a sweet spirited message from the mom of a 30-y-o daughter w/ severe issues from cerebral palsy. She said that even music has negative repercussions on nerve cells. Very true. There have been times when doctors injecting dye into my back have asked me to talk so they know how I’m doing. I go into myself is silence, probably because as a child, I offered little resistance to my doctors or nurses. So I will write next about the Doubds of Silence.

      Thankful for you and your input, Flo

      On Sat, Jan 6, 2018 at 9:14 PM wind in the woods wrote:

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