Leah Francis : Finding the Way contents

What will happen to her if they take her away from us?

This baby's name was Leah. We, especially mum, (or Gran, as she is known to so many) overcame the sadness and pity for the "poor little mite" As we came to terms with her disfigured, expressionless eyes and her unresponsiveness to almost everything that happened around her.

By the end of the two weeks' trial we had begun to love this baby girl and to rise to the challenge of giving her as much love and pleasure as we could manage.

Who knew how long she would be in our care? Who knew when she would be taken back by a jealous, perhaps incompetent mother, or when the bureaucracy would decide she should be brought up in an institution where workers had experience of children with handicaps.

Slowly, Leah began to smile, laugh and move her limbs. She responded to our cuddles, tried to hold her bottles, reacted to our voices and our footsteps.

We were a bustling family but there were plenty of people about, and someone would find time to play with the baby.

Gran would sing nursery rhymes and old English songs to her in her broad, Lancashire accent, tell her stories teach her nursery rhymes and help her play with toys and household things like pegs, pots and spoons. We supported and praised her as she crawled, then walked, and tried not to restrict her.

We were realistic and practical about this baby, helping her to do things by herself. We taught her to search on the floor for things she had dropped, encouraged her to touch things and talked to her about their textures and shapes, and their uses. She must learn to "fend for herself", we told one another, "We won't always be here to take care of her, and who knows when she will be taken away."

NOTES

Aunt makes a banjo out of elastic bands and cardboard. Gran teaches me to find things on the floor. Grandad makes me a wooden train on big wheels. A swing.

Given tricycle, scooter-elva.

Walking to church gate and Napper's Corner.

Stealing money from till. burning toys from papershop.

Stealing four shillings.

Aunt: tried to make things fit my needs: shoe bag behind bedroom door. Case for shorthand machine, leather cover for vol of bible. Grandfather: metal label for school case. braille name in bible and hymnbook. Aunt: tennis ball on elastic attached to racquet. Banjo of cardboard and elastic bands.

AUNTIE DOT

Cooee lodge: another one for the box.

Arthur starving.

Grandfather cured Arthur. Gave him a bottle to stop him from crying, contrary to doctors' advice about breast feeding. This was after Vic had fallen from a spar on Garden Island.

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