Have Some Compassion (FGK-23)

I’m really glad we’ve had some lovely letters to share that are full of love and good wishes from mom’s family and the community. Today’s letter reminds me of some of the challenges that mom and my grandparents faced while mom was in the hospital – loneliness being up there with her physical condition.

In our home using the word “crippled” was akin to any of the racially charged words that are out there, or the worst of the degrading terms that could be used regarding another person. It is a word that makes me visibly cringe when I hear or read it, and I can truly see why mom refused to let that word into her life.

Now, I am not saying that the staff wasn’t doing their best, but their best and the future that Grandma envisioned for her youngest daughter I think were quite different. I am so impressed by Grandma’s tenacity – she never gave up believing that mom was going to surpass what was expected of her physically, and she clearly cared about her emotional well being as well.

This letter made me really sad, it’s taken me a bit to write out because my eyes kept leaking. And I really wanted to balance it out with a happy letter, but that seemed wrong. I don’t want to take away from what this letter is saying. And I wonder if this is around the time that Grandpa started building that Physio table for mom – letters show she was in the hospital for several months after this, but I’m not sure exactly when she came home yet.

Grandma for me was always “Grandma”. I knew she could be strong and stubborn (this can be a good thing when used properly) sometimes but I’m seeing strength, faith, and determination like I never imagined. I am so impressed at how she stood up for mom and advocated for her care all the way through. It was a powerful lesson because I watched how Grandma’s children cared for her once the dementia took over and loved her all the way until God took over. Watching my parents, aunts and uncles care for Grandma like that was what taught me how to care for my parents as they were preparing to return to God as well.

I’ll attach the letter at the end, but I wrote it out so that it would be easier to read.

State Services for Crippled Children

State University of Iowa

Iowa city, Iowa

Office of the Director

January 12, 1953

Mrs Percy Copithorne,

RR2 Calgary

Alberta, Canada

Dear Mrs. Copithorne

We have your letter of December 29th in which you told about your daughter’s loneliness in the hospital where she was being treated for polio. you asked for the book on the Care of Infantile paralysis in the Home. We are glad to send it to you.

Our doctors here would quite agree with you feeling, that your daughter should be receiving medical care. They would not agree with you, however, in humouring her to the degree that you allow her to decide on what is best for her. If there is anything to be done for her, it should be done now and continue as long as her doctor recommends it. She will be grateful to you in the years to come.

We have inquired about medical resources in Calgary, and have been advised that there is nothing better from there to the coast. However, your family doctor is in a better position to know about resources in that area.

We are truly sorry about your child’s crippling condition. But we should strongly advise that you not allow your compassion for her to take precedence over your better judgement, regarding what is best for her.

Very truly yours,

R.R Rembolt M.D., Director

State Services for Crippled Children

(Mrs.) Cecilia H. Robert

Supervising Medical Social Consultant


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