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Nature may not be kind, but Pamela Loxley Drake learned early on to accept people who are different.

COURTESY PHOTO - Pamela Loxley DrakeThe tailless squirrel hops across the yard. The baby seems to have lost most of its tail either by birth or by being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

The other squirrels try to attack the baby. Nature does not seem to accept differences, especially those that happen in birth.

He lived down the road with his mother. I am not sure how old he was when first I became aware of him as I was just a child. They lived across the bridge and down the road.

A couple times a year, Irene would pull into the lane with her son Emerson, who was all dressed up and ready for work. Mom sat patiently as Emerson opened his case full of greeting cards. Proudly he showed her all of the most recent designs. Mom oohed and aahed over them. What a pushover!

As always, the visits ended with coffee and Mom's most recent culinary achievement. Conversations included Emerson and his card business, as well as the health of the relatives and the gossip on Neff Road. Everything came to a standstill when Emerson came to call.

Emerson was born with a disability. He would never marry or live independently, yet back in the 1950s, he was given community support and respect. His mother stood back, allowing him to have pride — pride of a working man.

When Mom passed, we three girls went through the rooms one by one choosing what we each wanted to keep. We found treasures and surprises in the house. And, we found her stash of cards. Boxes and boxes of new greeting cards, unsent cards. The cards were from another time. They were flowery and filled with old-fashioned verse.

Yes, Mom always bought Emerson's cards. Even if she did not need them.

The people on Neff Road were kind. They understood that we were all one family. Whatever befell one of us affected us all. Emerson was not just Irene's son, but also the child of all who lived along Neff Road.

It was a lesson for that little girl. A lesson remembered by a now-woman watching a tailless squirrel.

Pamela Loxley Drake is a Beaverton resident and self-described lifelong "farm girl."


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