Two Bricks: A Family's History With Cook Children's
Other than the commemorative labels on them, nothing about these two bricks stands out too much. That is until you sit down and spend time with Bobby Moore.
Then you will learn that Moore, who is 68 years old, plans to pass on one of those bricks to his daughter and the other one "will be in the casket with me."
So why would two old, dusty bricks mean so much to a man?
Because they once held up the building then known as Fort Worth Children's Hospital and it was there where corrective surgery saved him from a life in a wheelchair.
Moore was born in Alvarado, Texas at Dr. John Falk's medical clinic. Shortly after his birth, Moore's parents were told there was something wrong with their son's legs. Dr. Falk helped to schedule an appointment with Cuvier Lipscomb, M.D., an area surgeon and one of the founders of the Fort Worth Bone and Joint Clinic.
At 18 months old, Moore began seeing Dr. Lipscomb. Dr. Lipscomb tried braces, corrective shoes and Moore says "just about everything you could think of" to help his legs get better.
"I was extremely pigeon toed. Evidently the bones weren't developing below my knees," Moore said. "When I was about 12 years old, I was having lots of problems. Dr. Lipscomb said, 'I've done this procedure on a boy from Weatherford and it helped him a lot. I think it's something we need to do on you because if we don't, by the time you are 20, 25 years old, you aren't going to be walking."
Dr. Lipscomb went in below the knee, cut the bones and rotated Moore's feet until they were straight. He placed a cast on both of Moore's feet from the tips of his toes to his waist. He wore that cast from May 31 to Oct. 1.
Moore was wheelchair bound at that point. He and his family lived across the street from the school. He remembers kids bringing his books and homework to him every day at the end of school and then picking up his work the next morning.
In October, the casts came off of Moore. He went through physical therapy and started school on crutches. In February 1964, Moore went back to Dr. Lipscomb for another surgery. This time, staples held the bones together and kept them straight. Those staples are still in there to this day.
Moore couldn't play sports because of his legs, but he worked through high school and all of his adult life.
"You miss a lot, just not going to school my eighth grade year," Moore said. "I only made two six week periods the whole year. But with the help of the other students bringing my books to me, I was still able to pass my eighth grade year doing that."
Moore said he was too young to realize the serious nature of his condition.
"My brother tells me he can remember when we would go see Dr. Lipscomb," Moore said. "He remembers telling my dad, 'This kid won't walk by the time he's 15 years old if we don't do something for him.'
"What they were saying really didn't sink into my head. Even while I was sitting there with casts on my legs. I really didn't realize what was going on. The gravity of it all. But I'm very thankful there were people like Dr. Lipscomb who took the initiative and cared for patients."
Perhaps the moment that hurt Moore the most occurred when he was drafted to join the military. He went to Dallas for a physical, but was rejected because of his legs. Moore went to Fort Worth to have Dr. Lipscomb send paper work to explain the scars and how he thought he could hold up to military life. But he still was not accepted.
Moore knows without Dr. Lipscomb's care, he would probably be in a wheelchair by now.
"As a matter of fact, when I was 18 and the Army turned me down, Dr. Lipscomb told me, "Let me put you on 100 percent disability because I don't think you'll ever be able to work, using your feet and legs very much. He didn't realize how good a job he did on them. Up until 2004 when I started having knee problems, I hadn't had any trouble with them at all.
I was an auto mechanic for 15 years and I worked at a nuclear power plant for 34 years before I retired."
It's funny the things that stick with someone 50 years later.
A glimmer returns to Moore's eyes as he remembers the names of the other patients at the hospital. He also remembers his trips through the underground tunnel from the Fort Worth Children's Hospital to Harris Hospital for X-rays and physical therapy.
However, not all the memories are fun.
"The worst part was trying to recover," Moore said. "It wasn't necessarily the physical part of it, but the self-confidence part of it. You go to a ballgame and you see all these kids playing ball. You have to get up on a pair of crutches to walk, trying to get out of the building and you wonder if people are watching. Are they looking at you? I've always been self-conscious about walking because you don't ... I'm just very lucky that Dr. Lipscomb was the man that he was and the doctor that he was that got me through everything."
Today, Moore speaks with pride about his time at Fort Worth Children's and the part his family has played in the Cook Children's legacy.
His daughter Kim Epperson is the director of Telehealth at Cook Children's and his granddaughter Ashley has been a patient at Cook Children's and interned at the medical center during the summer.
"I'm very proud of Kim," Moore said. "When she first told me she applied to Cook Children's, I told her that's a good place to go because people like you can make a difference. When you are dealing with children and people that are scared and don't know what's going on, you need someone like Kim that cares about people and wants to make a difference. I'm very proud of her for doing that at Cook Children's."
Epperson said it wasn't until she was older that she realized what all her dad went through as a child. He and her mom, Janelle, were the parents she still strives to be every day. Moore was the softball coach and always outside playing with his kids in the yard.
"It's pretty miraculous to me. I think it's one of those things in your life where you make a decision. I'm either going to find the blessing in this or the curse. We've all benefitted from that generation after generation. He rides bicycles with us, his grandchildren, our children ... All the things that could have been so different, if a different decision had been made years ago."
"My dad has definitely influenced me. Before they tore down the old Fort Worth Children's Hospital, he came up one day and we went inside. He took me exactly where his room was when he was a child. He could describe the sounds. He knew that Dr. Lipscomb was coming by the sounds of his shoes (he always wore big wing-tipped ones) down the hallway. That left a really big impression on me because that's what we're still doing for children every day. To be a small piece of that puzzle is a big deal. Even though I'm not involved in direct patient care, we all have a small part to play in this experience for a child. They are going to remember what they heard, who they met and what they saw."
Epperson had other opportunities to work at other health care providers, but she wanted to come to Cook Children's enough to interview here on three separate occasions until she got the job.
"This is the type of place that transforms lives for generations," she said.
New bricks make up the walls of Cook Children's, but Moore knows the same care remains for kids today.
"There are good medical facilities all over Fort Worth," Moore said. "All over the Metroplex. But this is one of the places that really makes the differences in people's lives. They makes life-changing events for little children every day."