Robert Bennett, a former social worker turned writer, lives in the house he grew up in with his mother, one of his two brothers, two dogs that don’t get along, and a turtle. His lifelong focus has been a concern for the needs of society’s disenfranchised. His articles span a wide range of topics from sports to technology and from politics to social justice. His fiction is grounded in real world events and technologies as well as his own philosophical concerns. "It is the act of truly living and believing in yourself that is important, not the manner in which that action is undertaken." Mr. Bennett has spoken to groups of physical therapy students, church members and senior citizens, and has appeared on several radio programs. Contact Mr. Bennett through his website at www.enablingwords.com
Footfallsby Robert Bennett
As the story unfolds a landscape is painted depicting, in bas-relief,
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Footfalls is the story of Bob Sinclair, a patient in a rehabilitation hospital. It is a truth in fiction story focusing on a period of three weeks. Following his day to day life we watch Bob's struggle to overcome the physical obstacles inherent in the life of a newly handicapped man.
As the story unfolds a landscape is painted depicting, in bas-relief, McArther Hospital. The challenges faced by Bob, as well as those faced by other patients he encounters, are similar to those faced by people in the outside world. Upon examination the hospital reveals itself to be a microcosm of the world at large.
While at McArther Bob's well-being is placed in the hands of doctors and nurses whom he deems incompetent. His worries, over the kind of life he'll be able to lead after leaving the hospital, largely fall on deaf ears. Though other staffmembers try to a limited degree, only his physical therapist and her assistant show Bob the kind of compassion he desperately needs. As he struggles to re-learn to perform such tasks as climbing stairs, he sees others around him performing those tasks easily. After a while he questions the fairness of life and his ability to function independently.
Joe Torres, Bob's roommate, is a highly functional and largely independent quadriplegic. He arrives at McArther the day after Bob does and the two form an instant bond. Though he's come to McArther to increase his independence, his present problem is really a medical one. However, he quickly discovers, to his annoyance, that McArther is not equipt to deal with his medical needs. As he struggles to come to terms with this he discovers that the physical therapy he receives is cause enough to remain at the hospital. Still, he jokes about having to find a 'real' doctor for his medical needs once he is discharged.
Another resident of the spinal cord injury wing, Irene, a pretty, oriental woman comes to McArther following a mountain climbing accident. During a late night encounter with Bob she questions her own self worth now that she has lost the use of her legs. She worries about her two young children and her ability to care for them.
Once Bob meets Joyce Croft, a woman with Multiple Sclerosis, his experience of McArther changes. Though he still struggles with his day-to-day existence he now has someone in whom he can confide in a serious manner. This makes his confinement somewhat more tolerable. However, Bob has difficulty making Joyce understand his fears and concerns. She does not understand his unwillingness to accept his limitations.
As the story comes to a conclusion Bob is faced with many concerns. He has grown to hate McArther Rehabilitation Hospital yet he is fearful of leaving it too. Though he feels that he has learned a great deal during his five weeks stay he is unsure whether it is enough to allow him to function outside of the secure environment. He wonders, too, about the friends he's made. Will people in the 'real' world treat him as an equal, as they did, or will they relate to his handicaps without relating to the person behind those handicaps? Bob is not sure that he wants to find out. Also, he is not sure that it is safe to leave any of his friends behind. In the last days he comes to decide that no one should have to face the shoddy treatment he has had to endure. Bob Sinclair leaves McArther happy yet unsure of his future.
- BN ID:
- Robert Bennett
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