David Hearod

June 7, 2019

I read this morning that David Hearod died yesterday at a Princeton nursing home.
He was 70. Visitation will be at Morgan Funeral Home in Princeton this morning and burial this
afternoon. How often do you hear of that happening? A person dies one day and is buried the
next. He died a pauper and spent almost all of his life with the mind of a four-year old child.

David was from old Kuttawa. When he was just a baby, his mom took him to a doctor for a
regular inoculation of some sort. The nurse who gave him the shot made a brutally tragic
mistake. David was running a temperature, most likely from a harmless cold. The nurse either
didn’t take his temperature or ignored it. She gave him the inoculation. When combined with
his fever, he suffered permanent and serious brain damage. It pretty much froze his mental
development in place.

So, David’s parents were saddled with the terrific burden of raising a child with severe brain
damage. I didn’t know his father. He passed long before I got to know David and his mother
Anna. They lived in a little, wooden frame house on the upper ledge at old Kuttawa. Their
home, while always neat and clean, consisted only of about three rooms.

David’s physical agility and mobility was mostly unaffected by his brain damage. He could
dress himself and basically take care of his bodily cares under the direction of his mom. He
had the vacant and constant stare of an idiot in his eyes and was quiet and subdued most of
the time. When he spoke, he did so loudly, and in rushed sentences which, made sense, but
were of little substance. “We got no mail today,” or “Bill McConnell came by yesterday.” His
words would be sudden ejaculations of thought, and then he would retreat back into his silent
house of mystery. Like a four-year old, he had friends who he recognized. He would speak
and answer questions with mostly yes and no. Well, guttural grunts were more like it. His
personality was totally devoid of any emotion. I never saw him smile.

Obviously, he required constant supervision by his poor mother and was incapable of any
gainful employment. Even his domestic usefulness was limited. His main assignment each
day, was the job of going to the mail box and getting the mail for Anna. He carried out this
responsibility with the diligence and devotion of a decorated soldier. There, at the mail box, he
 would stand, a lonely sentinel with his head slightly turned in the direction from which he knew
the US Postal service would arrive. The friendly mail man would place the mail in David’s hand,
who would retreat with his daily trove to the house and place it in the hands of his mom.

 

Like school kids once marked the time of day with their disassembled ramblings home after 3
p.m., David marked the time of day by his daily vigil at the mail box. Neighbors from down the
street could tell if the mail had run by looking for the man standing at the Hearod mail box.

I visited in their home many times. Anna was a large, stout, and intelligent woman. She drew
disability for her and David and I once investigated unsuccessfully the possibility of some
recourse for his long ago medical malpractice claim. I was always struck by the simplistic
sweetness of David, and the gallant courage of his mom. Her personality was one of bold
acceptance never complaining or lamenting her terrible plight in life. She performed her
motherly duties as like one sent from Heaven by God himself to cheerfully watch over and care
for one David Hearod.

But Anna grew old. Tired. David grew into middle age. No change in David. But Anna died.
David seemed to be emotionally detached from such a momentous loss. Just another day at
the mail box for him.

Either distant cousins or Social services took over. Anna was buried, and David was moved to
the nursing home in Princeton. The little wooden house with the fabulous view of Lake Barkley
was sold. The nursing home and Medicare gobbled up the money. In a short time the house
was torn down. Some stranger from up north replaced it with a nice new home. The mail box
is gone. No trace of Anna Hearod and her severely challenged son has been left behind.

David lived out the last 25 years or so of his life in the Princeton nursing home. I went by to
see him several times. He was always clean, well dressed and fed. His countenance and
demeanor was unchanged, from those times I visited him in old Kuttawa in his mother’s warm
and loving kitchen. He seemed happy there with others of similar ilk. Happy? Not sure that is
the right word for someone without emotion. Satisfied comes to mind.

So now David Hearod is dead. I plan to go to the visitation. Visitation. Somehow the word
sounds strange all of a sudden, for the event. Outside a cousin or two, and maybe some loyal
care takers from the nursing home, there will not be many to visit each other around the earthly
remains of David. A very meager few, if any, will remember the sad saga of Anna and David
Hearod? When pondered deeply in the heart we try to draw some meaning from it all. Some
purpose for these ill-fated lives bent low under the heavy cross of misery and woe. We strain to
find God’s will in it all. An innocent babe through no fault of his own, cruelly abused. A loving
mother, through no fault of her own, sentenced to a life of nursing and caring for the eternal
infant. How could Heaven look on and not take their part? The story of Anna and David is
simply one of the millions of such melancholy tales which are told across America each day.
They run their earthly course and will—like David this afternoon—descend into the earth.

And, without any answers, we will quietly strike David’s name from the prayer list at our church.

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