A Letter from a Mother to her Child
A Letter from a Mother to her Child, March 1996.
Forty-five years ago…I can still feel the excitement and anticipation. There was a borrowed six-month-size crib in the corner of the one-room gray barracks. Sometimes, when I was alone, I would stand next to it, trying to imagine two babies sleeping there. Fortunately, it never occurred to that eighteen-year-old to be concerned about the births, nor about how she would manage afterward. Now, at age sixty-three, I look back with awe and wonder …
Many miles from home and with a commitment and responsibility I enthusiastically embraced, I was to take on most of the breadwinner duties. The result of this endeavor was that I ended up being twenty-two years old instead of seventeen in early 1951 in order to obtain the full-time secretarial job I needed.
I had never actually seen a newborn baby before, and now, in this “faraway land,” I was to become the mother of two of them! No wonder I was excited!
After consulting my little book, “Expectant Motherhood” (given to me by the doctor) I determined that we should be off to the Sparrow Hospital in Lansing, Michigan where you were born soon afterwards. I had so wanted to be aware of every moment of this new adventure. I remember the warmth of you as you were placed on my stomach and I smiled watching such a perfect arc of urine! Instinctively I reached out to you but was restrained (that was not allowed back then). Because you were born first, your bracelet name was “A” and you were the larger – 5 lbs. 6 oz., 18” in length (and fairly red!). When the nurses brought you both in I could tell who you were since your sister was quite pale. You were so much smaller than I had ever imagined.
You were given your name within two days as there was no insurance and I had to get out of there! I was dressed, ready to leave, sitting in a chair because I was determined that they would not charge me for another day.
The nurse who helped us out to the ‘35 Chevy Coupe marveled that your dad and I were just children ourselves…how right she was!
I am sure that God sent two wonderful women to my aid. They loaned me all of their new-born baby clothes, instructed me in your care and gave me six weeks of diaper service. Since that one room barracks contained only a table, four wooden chairs, two army cots. a dresser and that crib and the Laundromat was some distance away, I was so very grateful.
When you were six weeks old, I mended (I can imagine now what that must have looked like!) washed and ironed everything to return to them, asking how in the world I could possibly thank them. They just said that whenever I had the opportunity, to just “pass it along.” I have tried to do that. I only wish I could have had the chance to tell them how their kindnesses have been with me all of my life.
And here you are, turning 45 years old. Some day you will marvel when your children have suddenly reached that age (except they will do it one at a time!).
I don’t know how to tell you exactly how much you mean and have meant to me through all the years. At times I think how close I came to losing you at nine months of pneumonia. and it still aches. Remembering the experience we had in the Russian River when you were a little girl gives me chills – I knew if I couldn’t keep you from drowning that we would both go. You were always so logical, practical, creative, caring and loving, albeit a strange dresser. “Oh no, please tell me you didn’t wear that to school!”
You have no idea how many “fixes” you have given me my friend – the sharing and the laughter and our ‘into the wee hours’ tete a` tetes. Or how special you and your family have been to Granny and Grandpa -allowing us to “borrow” your children on occasion has enriched our lives and, we hope, theirs.
I was so thrilled and proud at your birth; I am so thrilled and proud of your life these forty-five years later. I love you. Mom.