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Read more of Dr Don's stories

JANE-MARIES BIRTHDAY

By: Dr. Don Noyes-More Ph.D.


"Even with Cerebral Palsy Jane had a shining joy"

I have a very good friend who lived in Altadena, California. His name is Callon. Altadena is a small community pushed up against the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains near Pasadena. Callon was a tall, red-haired boy with a face full of freckles. He was all muscle. I was 17 when Callon took me to meet Jane-Marie for the first time. Jane-Marie was Callon’s cousin and was having a hard time with her Cerebral Palsy. She was 16 years old. We drove up to a modest white house. We walked in the open door. Raspy disconnected words came from an over stuffed chair. It was Jane- Marie. She had long golden hair. She looked liked a poorly put- together rag doll. Nothing worked. Her arms and legs all pointed in wrong directions. She could not keep her head still and it bobbed back and forth. She tried to speak but all that came out were half words or disconnected words. Callon said he taught her a lot of swear words. Her family was not pleased with that at all. But through it all there was a personal presence that was very distinct. Jane-Marie through all her physical problems was able to make personal contact with others through her very expressive eyes. Her eyes locked onto me. The next thing I knew I was sitting next to her talking. Jane-Marie’s mother walked in and seemed upset that I was there. Callon said, “Donnie, we better be going.” I nodded. Jane-Marie was not happy we were leaving and made a bit of a fuss. Her mother was waving us out of the room like we were some sort of pests. Jane-Marie’s eyes followed me out the door. I waved at her and smiled.

A few months later Callon phoned me and said Jane-Marie was in the hospital for tests, and he was going by the hospital to visit. “It’s Jane-Marie’s birthday so I really need to be there for her. You want to come?” He said.

“Sure,” I replied. He picked me up an hour later, and we were off to the hospital in Pasadena. On the way I picked up a bright red clown doll for Jane-Marie. We went to the desk at the reception area of the hospital and were told it was almost too late to visit. We ran to the elevator and down a corridor to her room. We found Jane-Marie in a private room with her radio blasting. She burst out with a “Hello.” One word she got out without too much of a problem. We sat talking and Jane-Marie opened her presents from us. A nurse came in and said visiting hours were over. We weren’t happy with that news.

 “It’s her birthday we need to celebrate. You want to go out tonight Jane-Marie?” Callon asked.

Out came a long and distorted “Yes!” from Jane-Marie.
“How we going to do that Callon?” I asked.
“We’ll leave a note. And we’ll take Jane-Marie and go down the

stairs,” he answered.
“Wow, far out!” I laughed. We got Jane-Marie dressed, wrote

the note that we were taking her to get an ice cream, and then picked her up and ran for the staircase. Down the stairs we flew with Jane-Marie being carried like a sack of potatoes. We were all laughing. She was laughing very loudly. We got into the car and sped off into the night. We got onto the old Pasadena freeway and aimed for Hollywood.

We headed for Sunset Blvd. with Jane-Marie sitting between Callon and myself. Our first stop was Gino’s, an under 21 club on Melrose Avenue. It was only 11:00 PM, early for the “after hour” clubs. With Jane-Marie in our arms, we went in the club. The owner Pietro was not happy and said we could stay only an hour. The music and lights were loud and bright. I tied Jane-Marie’s scarf around her head thinking It made her look cool. Callon and I decided to take her on the dance floor to boogie. Our arms were under her arms, and we were all swaying to the music. It was a very physical three-way dance. I saw two friends, Bill and James, came in the club. They saw us and came over. I’m sure they were wondering what this was all about from the surprised look on their faces when they saw us on the dance floor. Callon filled them in on our birthday adventure with Jane-Marie. They smiled and broke out into “Happy Birthday.” All the people there joined in, to the delight of Jane-Marie. Everyone near us came over to give her a birthday kiss. Bill and James said they wanted to join the party for the night. We said, “Sure.” So we hopped into Callon’s car and drove back to Sunset Blvd. to The Fifth Estate Coffee House. Jane-Marie was going to have a birthday she would never forget.

At the Fifth Estate we walked into a very smoky room filled with Hippie types. There was this well-known Hollywood character guy named Gypsy reading weird poetry. He was a regular in the Hollywood area – was even on TV a few times. We ordered espressos and asked for a straw for Jane-Marie. Our server was not pleased by us being there and showed it by a edge in her voice and manner. When we were served our coffees Jane-Marie yelled out very clearly a “Fuck you” to our uptight server. We all laughed. After a number of espressos we were duly wired. We were asked to leave since we had now become too noisy for the other patrons intent on listening to the long-winded, bad poetry, and political ramblings of Gypsy. “Now, where to?” I asked James.

“How about Laguna Beach,” he said.

 “Cool, let’s go.” I yelled.

It was 2 AM when we started our trek to the beach. It was a warm night so we raced down the freeway with our windows open and music blasting. The Beach Boys Good Vibrations was turned up and we were all singing. Jane-Marie had a nonstop slanted smile that was wonderful. We finally hit the beach about 3 AM. There was a small cove about a half mile walk from the car. At the cove we found a lot of driftwood and built a fire.

We were all squeezed together on a large blanket from Callon’s special back seat kit when we decided to go into the water. We stripped naked including Jane-Marie, and we headed for the water. There was a bright moon out, and we were playing in the gentle waves. Jane-Marie was laughing the hardest. We had to hold her up while in the water. She was so excited her arms were all over the place, twice we got hit by a flying left or right arm. One by one we finally tired and headed for the blanket. We took turns drying off with the one beach towel. We settled on the blanket, just watching the fire. I was combing Jane-Marie’s hair. The rest tossed a ball back and forth and ended up wrestling in the sand. Jane- Marie’s body for the first time started to slow and became less spastic. She put her head on my shoulder, and I put my arm around her. She felt soft and warm. The others were going to sleep but Jane-Marie and I sat there watching the flames.

It was dawn and Jane-Marie and I were still awake. The others had fallen fast asleep. We looked at each other and smiled. I picked her up and took her to the edge of the water. Arm and arm we sat there until the sun was fully up. Jane-Marie turned her head and in broken speech said, “tha...a..a...nk you. Ma.., ma.., my best birthday.” She glowed warm and smelled sweet. We kissed.

With the bright sun, everyone woke up. Callon called Jane- Marie’s mom and told her all that had happened. She was very upset and told Callon to get Jane-Marie back to the hospital. She said she would call off the police and tell them that a mistake had been made. Callon was driving us all home. I was the last to be left off. Callon, Jane-Marie and myself were in the car. Jane-Marie had long ago fallen asleep on my arm. I lifted her up, and gave her a kiss. She was too asleep to even know what was happening. Callon had a scared look on his face.

I sent cards and visited Jane-Marie, but her mother was always present. There was no privacy. Jane-Maries’ life was waning. She had less than a year to live. Her mother kept her away from almost everyone but herself. I was not allowed to visit. I called once and Jane-Marie’s mother was there, picked up the phone and hung up on me. Jane-Marie died in the hospital. Her Aunt told me that Jane-Marie loved the red clown doll I gave her. And it was always on her hospital bed. I’ve keep her memory as part of a very special time in my life.

 

LAGUNA BEACH - WOOD'S COVE MORNING
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