Rhoda An Amazing Mother 
by Donna Kauffman

    Meeting at the kitchen table at 9:00 each morning gave us a good start to our home school day. During that hour, we read some kind of literature concerning Christian Heroes or mentors. One particular period of time, we were reading books by Joni Erickson Tada and studying the world of quadriplegics. Our three daughters, Carla, (16), Rachel (15), and Christa (12) found this a fascinating study. 

    I recalled as a child, a family from my church having a tragic car accident, leaving their fourteen-month-old daughter, Rhoda, paralyzed as a quadriplegic. The family moved from our community when Rhoda was three-years-old. This little girl was now a grown woman. I hadn't seen her since their move many years earlier. I learned she was recently married, had a child, and living in the same community as I. I phoned Rhoda and ask if I might bring my daughters for an interview to complete our study in this area. What a delightful day that was. Rhoda showed us the little bed her husband, Ken had made which hung over their own bed. Its purpose was that she be able to get the baby to herself for nighttime nursing without waking her husband for each feeding. She was able to sit up herself and maneuver the baby into her bed, however, Rhoda found lifting the baby back into the little nest didn't work quite as well. She had good use of arm muscle, but couldn't balance herself well enough to lift tiny Kiva into the cradle without waking her up. Rhoda's limitations though, did not keep her from adequately caring for the little one. 

    Ken had also designed a crib that she could roll her wheelchair up to like a desk. With it being desk height, it was much easier for Rhoda to lift the baby on and off her lap into the crib. The crib served as a dressing table as well as sleeping quarters. The front side of the crib, (also the cradle) easily slid up and over the top so it was out of the way while caring for the baby's needs. One side of the crib had three drawers that held essentials for Kiva. The other side had a rod that pulled out for hanging little dresses. Thus, everything was within Rhoda's reach. Diapers and clothing had been prepared with Velcro closures and worked rather smoothly for this young mother. Potty training was done in the crib as well. Rhoda could roll to the crib with her toddler and tend to her potty training needs at this height. It was much more difficult when the potty-chair needed to be on the floor. The baby learned at a young age that to get from the floor to her mother's lap, she must crawl onto her mother's foot rests or to the side of the wheelchair, then with Rhoda's help, she could climb into her mother's lap for cuddling or soothing. 

    Several years prior to Kiva's birth, Rhoda had a surgical procedure done to her fingers that, she states, "Changed her life." Before the operation, she had no pinch at all. Since the surgery, she could move each finger to a pinch position to her thumb. Her fingers did not grasp or clutch before, so this extra use was most essential in giving the needed care to her baby. Because of this surgery, Rhoda can zip a zipper that has been fixed with a pull on it. She is also, now, able to tie a shoe, though it doesn't come quickly and easily like for you and I, so as Rhoda would tie Kiva's shoes, she would teach each step again and again. Much to Rhoda's relief, Kiva learned to tie her own shoes while very young. Our day was most thought provoking and encouraging. We enjoyed the learning, observing, and fellowship with these two wonderful people. We were awed to discover first hand what a quadriplegic person faces. It was rewarding to enjoy Rhoda's spirit and acceptance. She was a living example of one who has learned to enjoy quietness and rest in our loving Lord, amidst her trial-some situation. We didn't witness one negative word or attitude. We four ladies went home from our hands on study with renewed urgency to learn contentment and acceptance in our lot in life! 

    Psalms 16:5 "You have assigned me my portion and my lot, and made my lot secure." (Once again, I haven't seen Rhoda for 10 years. In a recent phone call with her, she informed me that they now have two daughters. Kiva is twelve years old, and her sister, Kiera is six. The family has a young woman, Coni, living with them. Coni, who also uses a wheelchair, provides home schooling for the girls.)

Donna Kauffman is a pastor's wife and a mother of three grown daughters. She is a Bible Study leader, lay counselor and freelance writer. Donna has had articles published or accepted for publication in several publications including: Companions, Faithtoday.com, Georgia State Homeschooling, Christian Families Online, Purpose, Today's Native Father (Mother's Page) and various church publications.