Stories from the Campfire: Overcoming All Obstacles
Overcoming All Obstacles ACT I
(in the blackout — the sound of a baby)
NARRATOR (Either behind a screen or SR)
I was born on August 10, 1972 to a wonderful family in California. My life started like any other child’s but there were surprises along the way that my Mom, Dad and siblings would have to deal with. I was brought home from the hospital…..
(Lights up on a small family–Mom, Dad, Kimberly, Richard and Antionette. Mom holding a newborn baby)
Kids, I would like you to meet your new brother, Robert. Robert, this is Richard, Kimberly and Antionette.
(Each child steps forward as their name is called and looks at the baby. The children leave the stage)
I don’t understand this. He is so still….Robert doesn’t seem to be moving around much in his crib, I wonder if this is normal? I mean, do you you think he is feeling all right? I think we should take him to the doctor.
Well, let’s take him to see the doctor and see if he can give us some answers.
Overcoming All Obstacles ACT I (Scene 2)
(Light spots come up on 5 doctors. Mom and dad take the baby to each as the narrator speaks)
They took me to one doctor….he said I was fine. Then they took me to a second doctor. He said the same thing. This went on for 5 different doctors. My mother knew there was something just not right and did not rest until she found a doctor who actually gave them some news….
(Lights up on Doctor sitting at a desk. Two chairs facing upstairs toward the doctor. The Doctor gestures for the couple to sit)
Mr. and Mrs. Beasey I am afraid that I have some bad news. Through my tests and analysis of why Robert isn’t moving around I have found that Robert has Cerebral Palsy. (PAUSE) Cerebral Palso (CP) is a static motor disorder that usually makes appearance before the child is 3 years of age. It is due to an injury to the brain that is not progressive. Whereas the reality of CP is widely accepted, the causation of CP is quite controversial. In the child’s transiet apnea may possibly have led to a temporary insufficiency of oxygen to the brain and hence to CP. CP affects motor functions, not intelligence. A child with CP can be flaccid (unusually floppy) or spastic (unusually tight). In any case, a child with CP should have careful comprehensive evaluation and consideration of early treatment, which is often multidisciplinary (with physical therapy, speech therapy, etc.) (LONG PAUSE) I know that this is hard news for you to hear but I must give you the options as I see them. You can keep Robert with you, knowing full well that this will be a full time job and see to his needs. He will require surgeries as he grows and in my opinion would likely live in a vegetative state, meaning that I doubt he would ever be able to talk, walk, or move his arms and legs at all. Your other option would be to put him in an institution that would be suited to take care of his needs. This would be expensive and separate you from your son. I know this is a lot to hear at one sitting….I am sorry. I will just leave you to think.
(The Doctor Exists. Parents Hug)
NARRATOR looking at the audience
Well here I am, so I will let you decide what they chose….Although I am sure it wasn’t easy to hear or decide. Home we went.
Overcoming All Obstacles ACT I (Scene 3)
(Hospital Operating Room. Drs. operating on a small child)
Let me tell you about hospitals….Hospitals can be scary places. But in the end hospitals can be fun too. You become familiar with the doctors and nurses and they seem like another part of your family….well the more support the better at times like these huh? (Looking at the operating room) Anyway, my first surgery was when I was when I was 4. It was a hamstring release behind both knees, a heel cord release on both heels and a muscle transference on my left arm. AND they put a pen in my left thumb to keep my thumb out of my hand. You see the muscles contract and must be released or they will stay that way–what did you do on your 4th birthday? (Smiles at audience) SO a young Robert went into the operating room for the first time…
Dr. to unconscious boy on table
You are doing great Robert. You are just doing great.
And then I was 6….
(Mother and Dr. walk on)
Now explain this to me again?
Robert’s eyesight is in danger. He has what we call a “lazy” eye. We need to operate on him quickly or he will lose all the sight in his left eye and end up legally blind.
But he is just a little boy…isn’t there any other way?
If there was I would try it but I don’t see how we can correct it without the surgery.
Ok…if you must.
NARRATOR putting a patch over his left eye
So I got my second operation. I wore a patch over my eye for about a month. Scary for a little kid….but I had the support of my family and friends….oh did I tell you about my friends?
OVERCOMING ALL OBSTACLES ACT I (Scene 4)
Making friends is “different” for me. I tend to have to make the first move and then they seem to come around. I can’t blame them. I guess people that are different are kind of…well, different. Many of my friends, when I was in high school, would come up to me and tell me that they could maneuver my chair than I could–we would laugh and then…poof…friends! Such simple things can be the start of beautiful relationships. High School …difficult for most, but I had an interesting time of it. I was like the test subject for the physically disabled students. I would make deals with the teachers….
(Teacher walks on stage)
Hey I will make a deal with you about your class.
I am not sure Robert, my class isn’t an easy one…
I will get an A or a B in your class or I will drop the class. I know I can do it.
Robert, it is going to be a lot of hard work.
I know I can do it.
Ok, Robert you have a deal….(walks offstage smiling at Robert)
NARRATOR to audience
Ya know, every class I took was a mainstream class. I got an A or B too!! I also took 3rd prize in a lip synch contest….(Music starts to play and Narrator lip syncs to the music for a few moments) I think I should have won but you can’t have everything.
(Dr. Dad and Mom walk on stage)
He seems to be doing so well and is really enjoying school.
I know this is difficult. But we need to do these now if we are going to get past other problems later.
(Another Dr. enters and they set up for surgery again. The Drs. turn to audience as if they are talking to Robert)
We need to release your hamstrings again Robert and fuse your big toes.
We also need to operate on your groin area. We also would like to do a hip replacement surgery.
And how long would I be in the hospital if we did this hip replacement surgery?
DRs looking at each other
Oh, only 6-8 weeks more.
They didn’t do the hip replacement surgery (smiles at the audience).
I returned to high school and went to my prom–I went alone stag as they say.
Where is your date Robert?
I came stag.
Don’t tell anyone. Tell them that your date is in the bathroom.
Why? Because if I say that, they’re going to be wondering how long she’s been in the bathroom. And then they’ll know I came alone. So this way if they ask me I’ll just tell them the truth.
Two weeks after the prom, I was called into my teacher’s office…
OVERCOMING ALL OBSTACLES ACT I (Scene 5)
(Teacher’s desk moves on. Teacher and Robert walk on)
Robert, I want to talk to you about your diploma.
What about it?
Well you have a choice to make and I wanted to let you know what that was all about. You can get a “regular” diploma or you could get a “special” diploma.
And the difference would be?
A “special” diploma is a certificate of completion from the high school… and you could get that now and graduate with your friends. A “regular” diploma is just that, a high school diploma and you would have to go to school a bit longer to get that one.
Will a college take a “special” diploma if I wanted to go to college?
Yes. I am sure they would.
How much more time would I have to go to school if I wanted a regular diploma?
I would say 3-4 more years.
(Robert looks at Narrator)
Well I was already 19 and the thought of sticking around another 3-4 years didn’t do much for me, so I said…
(Robert looks back at the teacher)
Since a college will accept a “special” diploma, then I think I will take that.
(Robert and the teacher leave the stage. Graduation music is heard. Principle, 2 teachers sit “on stage”. Robert comes across the stage. Is handed his diploma.)
GRADUATION!! Is there anything more wonderful?? My parents and the entire family were there. I felt the support of the entire school and when the principle said my name:
I went across the stage. When he handed me the diploma, I looked at the audience and saw it!! They were standing up….they were all standing up for me.
(Sound of applause)
OVERCOMING ALL OBSTACLES ACT I (Scene 6)
I didn’t waste any time. Two weeks after my graduation, I went with my sister to the college and approached the counselor’s desk.
(Same desk as teacher. Sister and Counselor walk on.)
I would like to apply to go to school here.
COUNSELOR (looking up from her desk)
GREAT!! May I see your diploma please?
ROBERT (smiling at the audience and handing her the diploma)
Here it is.
COUNSELOR looking at the diploma
Oh, I am sorry. We don’t accept “special” diplomas anymore.
ROBERT (looking at the audience)
I love my life!!
What do you mean you don’t accept that diploma???
ROBERT (looking at counselor)
What can I do to get into this college?
Well, you need to get your GED.
So in 1993 I enrolled in my G.E.D. class. In 1994, I passed. (Pause) I went and passed the college entrance exam and here I am. I proved not only to myself but also to those who told me that I would never get into college that I could do it. Oh, ye of little faith! I take classes now and have gotten up in front of the classes and talked about my disability. I am not scared to go up in front of the class and introduce myself and answer questions if they ever need answers about my life and me. I remain a student but yet I remain a teacher to students who don’t know the difference between the disabled or how it is for disabled students. I like teaching about life…sometimes it is just as important as what we learn in class.
(Mom walks on)
People search for reasons for things. That is why we learn. My teachers ask me what keeps me going, why do I put myself through this. I ask myself, is it ever going to stop? Why do I put myself through this? My mom is always searching for some “reason” for my disability. When I was 14 we had this conversation….
Robert, I have something to ask you….Are you mad at me?
I think I may know what has caused you to be like you are. When I was pregnant with you, I had a stint of pneumonia. One of your aunts told me God was punishing me for the things I did in the past. If I wasn’t sick you would have been normal.
But mom you told me God has a reason why I’m disabled. I don’t know why yet but as I go forward God will reveal it to me.
That’s right. You are right. I love you Robert.
I love you too, mom.
My life is pretty good actually. I have always been close to my dad. He is a good man. When I was around 23 or so we were standing out by the drive way and I said to him: “Dad, I kind of feel left out sometimes and like I am letting you down. I can’t go out and play football or anything like that. Can’t work with you out here…”
Robert, if your weren’t the way you are today, your brother and sister wouldn’t be they way they are today. They wouldn’t be understanding, patient, or as compassionate to other people as they are now. If you weren’t the way you are…you mother and I would not be like we are with people. You are very special Robert. I hope you know that. You still need to work towards accomplishing all your goals.
But when do I know that I’ve done enough? When do I know that I am at the end of the tunnel?
You’ll never know what the end of the tunnel is because there might be a train coming.
At that moment I felt proud to be his son. (Smiling) Now don’t get me wrong, things aren’t always so wonderful in my life. I get my feelings hurt too. Take for instance when I was talking to my sister one day…
(Kimberly and Mother enter and cross to Robert)
So, Robert–when are you going to get a girlfriend?
Robert does not need girlfriend right now; he has enough trouble taking care of himself, that he doesn’t need a girlfriend to add to his problems.
Mom, you never know. I might have a girlfriend in the future.
(Mother leaves the stage)
I was shocked!! My mother is the type of person that all through my life has told me that anything that I wanted I could achieve. To hear her say that about me, after she told me all through my life that I could do anything, was very disappointing to me. I just let it go. I mean what else can you do? Did I tell you about my brother’s wedding? 2 years ago, my brother called me at 8:00pm.
BROTHER (On Phone)
So, Robert, how would you like to be the best man at my wedding?
I said “YES”. I was shocked a bit. I was thinking that he was going to ask his best friend-first. But he said:
I was going to ask you first and if you didn’t say yes then I would have asked my other best friend, but I really want you to say yes. My other best friend will also be a best man! Robert, I can think of no one better to be my best man than you!!!
(As narrator speaks, the scene will shift to the wedding party with the head table toasting …and having a great time and guests are dancing and talking)
I was very proud. I felt that he could have picked anyone else but the fact that he chose me proved to me that he wasn’t ashamed of being seen with me. The only reason I was considering saying no to him was that I did not want to distract the guest from the couple. It was my brother’s wedding and I wanted him to be the focus. I was afraid that if I was the best man people would pay more attention to me. They didn’t. Everyone had a great time and the wedding was a great success. (Wedding party breaks down) BUT before the wedding was the Bachelor Party! Now don’t get the wrong idea!! My brother took all the groomsmen to Suwannee River. (Sounds of water flowing) While we were there, we decided to go to the grocery store to get some snacks.
(Robert, Brother, and two groomsmen walk into the grocery store. Robert and one of the groomsmen break off and walk down an aisle of the store while Brother and other groomsmen get more snacks. In the first aisle stands an attractive young woman.)
ROBERT (pointing to the young woman)
Man, she looks good.
GROOMSMAN (Turning to look at her after looking at can of soup)
Hey, you’re right.
(They follow her through the store, always one aisle over. They look at her through cans of black beans and bags of potato chips. Robert and the guys go through check out and “wait” for her. The young woman goes up to check out. The guys nudge each other)
Wow, she is one hot momma!
(The young woman looks straight at them. She smiles and reveals a mouth full of missing teeth. The guys look at her)
Oh man! Everything looked good until she smiled.
What a shame!
(All exit bummed out)..
OVERCOMING ALL OBSTACLES ACT I (Scene 7)
Three years ago, I was accepted as a student at the NTWH (National Theater Workshop for the Handicapped)-Crosby in Belfast, Maine. This was a program for the disabled to work as actors, and show people that disabled persons can do a lot more than most people think because it not only brings together with able bodied people but it also teachers people how to get along with others whom may have difficulties. In opens people’s eyes to possibilities they never even consider. It made me aware that I need to speak more slowly and concentrate on what I would say before I speak. Even though the experience was only two weeks long it made a profound impression on my life and who I am today. Last December, I graduated from St. Petersburg College. I was originally told that nearly everything I have accomplished would be impossible for me. I should not be here on this stage today but here I am.
I would never be able to talk and look at me now!
I would never be able to move my arms or legs!
I would never be able to complete college!
(Shows off diploma. Everyone throws their hats off)