Mary was just so happy to be a mother.
She reveled in every move the baby made, every time the child shifted or kicked inside her. It was a new adventure and it was marvelous.[more]
When it came time though, her husband was with his unit on maneuvers in Louisiana. So there she was at Fort Hood, Texas, alone. Her family was far away in Missouri tending their farms. Her husband’s mother was in Arkansas but had never learned to drive. She was planning to catch a bus to come down to help with the baby after it was born.
The only people she knew were the couple that lived on the other side of the duplex where the Army had settled them upon arrival.
The lady next door was kind of enough to get her to the base hospital but, since she wasn’t a relative, she couldn’t be there with her.
She got through the pain of the labor and delivery by thinking about her baby’s little toes, little fingers, little nose; and realizing it wouldn’t be long before she held the child in her arms. Would it be a boy? A girl?
In those days, there was no practical way to know. It would be a surprise — a marvelous surprise.
She didn’t see the baby right away. She only got a glimpse before they whisked her little boy off. But she was pretty sure she heard crying.
That’s why it was so stunning when, as she was resting, a nurse came back in with empty arms. She sensed something was wrong.
“Ma’am,” the nurse said. “I’m terribly sorry but the umbilical cord was wrapped around your baby’s neck and his little lungs just never got a chance to develop. He didn’t make it.”
Heartbroken, she wept uncontrollably. “I want my husband,” she cried out repeatedly between the sobs.
The nurse tried to console her.
“I want my husband,” Mary insisted.
The nurse left and Mary was once again alone.
“Please, God,” she cried out. “Help me, God.”
She swore she heard her baby crying. What had happened?
The nurse returned and asked, “Where is your husband? I thought he was in the waiting room.”
“No,” Mary sobbed. “He’s with his unit in Louisiana.”
“Did your baby have curly dark hair?” the nurse asked, warily.
“No,” Mary answered. “The best I could tell was he didn’t have much hair at all.”
“Oh, my God!” the nurse exclaimed. “I’ve got the wrong woman!”
And she wheeled and raced out of the room.
Mary continued to pray but she could barely dare to hope that her baby might be okay.
Though it seemed like an eternity, her baby — her baby boy — was eventually brought to her, wrapped in a blanket. She took him in her arms and once again the tears began to flow. This time, though, they were tears of joy as she felt him breathing, as she stroked his little cheeks and inspected his little hands and fingers then checked his little feet and toes.
Over the subsequent days, she would hardly let him out of her sight.
* * *
That was the day I was born, Bob and Mary Patrick’s firstborn. I was named after my Dad (Robert) and my Mom’s Dad (William).
Over the next 12 years, I gained two brothers (Mike and Jon) and a sister (Jodi). Each has a story to go with their birth that Mom likes to tell on our birthdays.
I can tell you for certain that I didn’t do mine justice in the telling but I tell it here, nonetheless, to say:
You and Dad have been through so much on my account along the way, on account of all four of us. And you’ve dealt with all the other things, the cancers and the other health problems, plenty of tough times.
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
I cannot thank you enough.
Of course, you’d be the first to say that our family has been blessed, and you’d be right.
We’ve been blessed to have you for our mother.
Happy Mother’s Day, Ma. I love you.