By: Ali Elizabeth Turner
From time to time we revisit (even if it is just for one edition of “Ronnie”) a book that has been a past source of inspiration. Such is the case with Dr. Kevin Elko’s Believing Is Seeing, and with a chuckle, Mayor Ronnie read to me from page 138. The subject was the “fight not being over…yet,” and there were several examples, some heart wrenching and some humorous. We’ll start with the heart wrenching.
Dr. Elko told of a story that brought a “quick mist to the eyeballs” of us both as it pertained to a difficult topic—children who have been hospitalized due to burns. A teacher had been hired to visit kids in the hospital in order to help them with their work, and she had not been told that this particular child was in the burn unit. She did her best to get through it, and both she and the child were clearly uncomfortable. She felt that she had performed poorly, and wondered if she was right for this particular aspect of teaching. The teacher went back the next day, and to her shock was greeted by a nurse who said,
“’What on earth did you do to that boy?’ She was about to apologize for her poor performance that must have upset the vulnerable child; it must have been even worse than she thought. The nurse went on to say, ‘We’ve been very worried about him, but ever since you were here yesterday, his whole attitude has changed. Now he’s fighting back, responding to treatment. For whatever reason, he’s decided to live.’ The boy explained later, after he left the hospital, that he had indeed given up hope, he had completely given up—until he saw the teacher. As she stood fumbling but earnest at the foot of his bed, he said to himself, “They wouldn’t send a teacher to work on verbs and nouns if I were dying, would they?” It was all he needed to find his footing in the hopeful world of the future. Just that littlest spark of knowing what the possibilities are, knowing that there are indeed possibilities may make all the difference and open up the floodgates. There is always something you can do.”
The burned boy story had significant meaning to the Marks family, as there had been a time when Quinton, Ronnie and Sandra’s grandson had been in UAB for some extensive cranial surgery when he was just a little shaver. Ronnie had come out to the waiting room and was wanting to get a cup of coffee. A woman was there who essentially knew every possibility to find a good “cuppa,” including crossing the skybridge and going to the Starbuck’s that was located on the other side. How did she know? She had a grandchild in the burn unit. How long had she been there? Sixty-nine days. She was Ronnie’s guide and angel, and she had refused to give up the fight.
The humorous story was also found on page 138, and it was much shorter. An octogenarian was asked if he had any children, “and the octogenarian, with a mischievous twinkle in his eye, answered, ‘Not yet!’ This may be carrying it a bit too far, but the principle is the same; you have to believe regardless of the circumstances. There is a future, no matter what is happening in the present.”
“The word ‘yet’ is so powerful,” said the mayor after we finished laughing, and continued by saying, “Our fight to make this place better is not over…yet.” Of course we had to cheer the SEC on as March Madness is beginning. Both Alabama and Auburn are seeded, and we shall yet see how the fight turns out.
Then is was time to pray; so we did, like we always do, and then, it was time for Ronnie to roll.
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner