The lady in the nursing smock at Piedmont Medical Center held the hand of the old man. She cleaned him, helped feed him, took him to the restroom. She soothed him and talked to him. She did this for 10 days.
A daughter-in-law of the man was awestruck by the attention, the care, of this nursing assistant. Belinda Chambers called this nursing assistant, who did so much for a stranger, a Godsend.
The nursing assistant, Barbara Adkins, has to do all those same jobs, and more, at home every day of her life. To get home from the hospital in Rock Hill to home outside of York, Adkins drives an old car that has duct tape holding the headlights in. Wire and coat hangers hold other parts in place .
When the rain falls, the car gets wet inside, and the people inside get wet, too.
Adkins drives home anyway, a single mother, because her younger son without most of his brain needs her.
My son needs me and I will be there every day and every night because I was told he would never make it past 2, and now hes 3, Barbara Adkins said.
Matthew Tanner Adkins, turning 4 in August, was supposed to be dead already because of the disease Schizencephaly, his mother said. That is a fancy, awful word for being born with less than a full brain.
He cant crawl, he cant talk, he cant roll, he cant feed himself, Barbara Adkins said. But hes fought so much, tried so hard, to get this far. I used to cry every day. But every day is one more day that he is here with me.
Tanner loves to ride the special school bus with the lift on it that takes him for the short speech therapy school program this summer at Cotton Belt Elementary. Tanner puts his effort into more therapy at a Rock Hill clinic that specializes in tiny kids needing the most basic help.
He loves to try to be a kid like other kids when there is no way that will ever happen.
Thats why, simply, his mother refuses to quit on Tanner.
Hes a beautiful boy and his little life deserves to be the best it can be, Adkins said.
The Easter Seals foundation for disabled children helped the family, and the Make-A-Wish program gave the family a pool for Tanner to swim in. A fundraiser last summer, with so many pitching in, helped.
This coming Saturday, First Wesleyan Church in York is hosting another fundraiser. Rev. Don Avore, senior pastor at the church, said the parish and its members wanted to do all it could to help someone like Barbara Adkins who is trying so hard to take care of a son who needs so much care.
While Adkins is at work, her mother watches Tanner. The mom, Anne Howe, worked for years as a nursing assistant, too.
Taking care of him is non-stop, he has had seizures, Howe said. Hes a precious little boy he wants to walk so bad. We hope and we pray.
Family help is the only way that Barbara can make it. Because, simply, the medical costs are staggering: the gasoline to and from a battalion of doctors that run from brain specialists to therapists and so many others that the list takes up an entire page of a notebook. Disability payments help Adkins, but she is a classic example of the struggling, working poor single mother.
But what you do in your life, when you are a mother, is all you can do for your children, said Adkins, who also has an adopted 10-year-old son, Caleb. You dont quit on your kids.
Just this week, late Wednesday, Tanner became sick. He had to be hospitalized for a day. Barbara Adkins stayed with him through the night. After getting Tanner home, she cranked up the old car and drove back to work, to help somebody else.
Andrew Dys • 803-329-4065