A Desert Place

Jack! Jack! O God.

The neighbor screamed wildly, again yelling the appeal. The young man pivoted. His eyes followed her gesture.
The canal!

Irrigation waters swept Jack’s young cousin downstream. The twenty year old ran two and a half blocks before catching up with little Bobby. He pulled him from the current and onto the canal bank. But Jack arrived too late. Three year old Bobby Lout was gone.

Pic. Thelma.Betty.Bobby (2)

The young family had come to Phoenix from Berkeley for the climate. For the children’s health.

Clyde had long since atoned for his oversleeping bungle. His slim earnings as a plumber’s helper prepared them for a modest but happy welcome of their firstborn. Betty came within a year of Thelma’s pilgrimage West. Her little brother arrived three years later.

Thelma let his curly blond hair grow long. He charmed the family, neighbors, even strangers. Everyone adored Bobby.

Then asthma descended on the two children. The damp climate of the Bay area made the condition worse. Clyde considered the situation. They should move, he told Thelma.

His oldest sibling, Dovie, had settled in Arizona with her family. The Louts left for Phoenix. Clyde found a place to live not far from Dovie’s household. And in a reasonable time he had a job.

Then now, this crushing loss.

Bobby’s death lunged the family into grief. Thelma anguished over Bobby’s drowning so intensely it was questioned whether she would regain emotional soundness. Wailings gave way to sobs, then whimpers. Cycles kept alive with renewed sobbing, followed by long silences.

Limping is a thing that overtakes everyone in the race we call life. The death of a child, especially one’s own child, can bring devastating lameness. It cripples parents and siblings – at least temporarily – in ways not easily comprehended. Recovery from some horrors demands critical attention.

Crippling lameness calls for companionship. For authentic compassion. It calls for family – natural or otherwise.

Dovie lived nearby. A godsend.

©Jerry Lout 2015



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