I was born with congenital abnormalities… I was missing both the ulna and the tibia on my right side. My radius and fibula
were bowed inward, and my right hand’s middle and index finger were webbed together, the index finger a mere stub. I
have no right thumb and my wrist is noticeably clubbed. That arm from the elbow down is quite unattractive and is now a
good nine inches shorter than my left. I vaguely remember being told that for a time I was in a leg brace to try and
straighten and support my right leg, but I do not remember. I was told that at two months old my mother shipped me off
to my grandmother in Cleveland while she investigated facilities that took in disabled children. I don’t know how long I was
with my grandmother, but after visiting several institutions my mother decided that perhaps I didn’t need to be shuttled off
to one of them. She saw severely disabled children and decided maybe I wasn’t so bad after all. That fact haunted me – I
would not be surprised if it still does. My mother didn’t want me. I was so far from perfect.
I remember being in the hospital for that operation – mainly I remember having a bed near a window and watching my
Aunt Jean walk up the sidewalk with my mother. My aunt was carrying the biggest, most beautiful curly-red-haired doll
ever – nearly as big as I was. The doll was clothed in a turquoise dress and Mary Jane shoes. I was so excited! My mother
told me later that the nurses loved me – I always had a smile on my face for them. They brought me a goldfish in a bowl,
and red roses for my table. My mother told me the nurses cried for me. I don’t remember much more than that, except
that I was not happy when they moved me away from the window.
My first artificial leg was made of willow and it strapped around my waist with a wide leather belt.
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