I’m rummaging through journals for information to supplement and stimulate my memories of beginning a family forty-five years ago. I open a grubby three-ring notebook. Lots of looseleaf stuff falls out. I recognize my mother’s handwriting and squint at the title, I Saw a Miracle faintly penciled in. A coincidence? It’s her take on my Rubella story.
The sharp ring of the telephone broke the quiet evening. The call was from my daughter in El Paso. Her husband was stationed at the Ft. Bliss army base. I knew she’d been crying by her tear-strained voice. ‘Mother, have I ever had German Measles?’
A cold chill ran down my spine. I knew what was coming. Jill was in the 12th week of her first pregnancy. She’d called Easter ecstatic with the good news, after two years of waiting.
That’s her waiting not mine. I wasn’t sure I wanted a baby yet, but had stopped taking birth control.
Jill had consulted several physicians. Some advised wait-and-hope, some abortion.
No physician suggested abortion; that was my idea. In fact no legal abortions were available until 1968, after the big epidemic was running its course. She continues, putting my name in place of hers.
Abortion was a horrible word, not permitted by my daughter’s religion or her personal feelings. She would not consider it. To her it meant taking a life, perhaps a perfect life. She carried her unborn baby very bravely for the next six months, never complaining, but I knew how deeply concerned she was and how hard she must have prayed. We all prayed with her.
What? It’s my mother’s god coming out all over the place. Did I tell her that to pacify her? Or have I taken the godless views I now hold, reversed time and infiltrated them into my past? What is the truth? My memory weaves through it with a thin silver thread, periodically blinding me with its reflection.
Little Ray or Scooter, as his family now called him, grew more beautiful each day – golden red fuzz, eyes as blue as the ocean where he lived, white skin, pink cheeks – an exceptionally beautiful child. However, we were all watching him carefully. I had taught speech therapy before my marriage and I began to suspect that he was not hearing.
We all suspected. From early on we were banging pot lids together behind Scooter’s back. No response. I brought up our concerns to the pediatrician. He placed his watch behind his head on one side or the other and when he turned his head correctly he said, “See. He’s fine.” This was no dumb kid. He could see the hand behind him. Scooter was a year old, but wasn’t babbling or saying those first dada, mama words although he was looking intently at our faces when we spoke. With great trepidation we made an appointment for Scooter at the Shands Speech and Hearing Clinic in Gainesville, Florida.