I was at every high school football game for four years, but I don’t think I ever watched one. Football games weren’t about football. They were about putting on those shiny Sheer Energy pantyhose, white boots with red pompoms, a red and white uniform with a short skirt, and red tights underneath. They were about dancing crazy on the sidelines while the band played stand songs. They were about shivering under blankets on cold Ohio nights and drinking hot chocolate from the concession stand. They were about walking around with boyfriends during third quarter. And they were definitely about the halftime show.
As a member of the drill team in the Mohawk Marching Band, I took the field each Friday night alongside my fifteen comrades. We performed to songs like “S-A-T-U-R-D-A-Y Night,” “The Rockford Files,” and “Do the Hustle.” Usually we used shakers for our routines. That worked great for me; I could hold a shaker in my prosthetic left hand and no one knew the difference. I’d practice while watching my reflection in the porch windows of my house to make sure the movements with my left arm looked the same as the movements with my right arm. All was well until THE RED AND WHITE GLOVES.
Beth, our captain, announced that we would be wearing some really cool gloves for our next routine. She pulled a pair out of her purse and put them on to show us. They were white on the back and red on the palm. “At various points in the routine we will flash all white,” Beth explained. “At other points we will flash all red.” When Beth demonstrated, my heart sank. I knew I couldn’t do that. My prosthetic hand would only open and close; it wouldn’t rotate at the wrist and the fingers wouldn’t straighten out.
I discussed the situation with Dad at supper. “I’ve never had to sit out of a game before, but I’m going to have to this time,” I told him.
He scrunched his forehead and said, “Don’t give up just yet. Let me think about it.”
Dad went to work that night at Armco Steel. He shared my dilemma with his fellow machinists. They spent their break time brainstorming possible solutions. As they talked about the need for wrist rotation, a man named Gene Brown speculated, “What about an ice-cream scooper? You know, the kind that you push the lever and the piece slides across the inside of the scoop? I wonder if we could use that rotating mechanism somehow.”
Dad and the other guys got quiet, considering how that might work. “You could be on to something there, Gene,” Dad replied.
“I’ve got one at home,” Gene added. “I’ll bring it tomorrow.”
And that’s how it happened. Dad and his friends connected the rotating mechanism from the ice-cream scooper to my prosthetic wrist and cabling. Then they fashioned straight “fingers” from strips of metal, padded around them, and pulled my red and white glove over them. It looked like a hand. The movements that previously opened and closed my hand amazingly rotated it from red to white!
I don’t remember if the Madison Mohawks won the football game that Friday night. I can’t name the quarterback or the Most Valuable Player. But of one thing I am very sure—my dad was the star of the game.
As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him. Psalm 103:13 (NIV)