Almost Forgotten was a recent prompt for 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks.
I’m writing about a baby that most people in my mom’s family don’t even know about. My mom, Gladys MARTIN HEISER (1921-1999) told me this story which I will tell from her point of view. This story took in 1932 in Virginia.
When I was 11, Mother, (Florrie THOMAS MARTIN 1894-1979) was pregnant with her ninth baby.
My brothers and sisters and I came home from school one afternoon in early spring to find the doctor’s car at the house. From the yard, we could hear Daddy (Joel Daniel MARTIN 1886-1955) in the house scolding the little ones. Tommy was nearly 2 and Bobby was 4.
As soon as we opened the screen door, Daddy met us and shoved Bobby and Tommy out the door toward my sister, Ruby, and me. Then he told all eight of us to go away from the house and to not come back until he called us. We said we had lessons to do.
“Never mind your schoolwork,” he said. And he closed the door on us.
We looked back and forth at each other, telepathically sharing the same thought, What’s wrong with Mother?
What to do now?
Finally, Carlisle, the oldest of us, said, “We all have chores to do. Chet and Jerry, after we get our chores done the three of us will do the girls’ chores so they can watch Millie and Bobby and Tommy.” We stepped in line and did what he said, though Chet grumbled under his breath.
A few hours later the sun was heading to the horizon. We were hungry and chilled. Daddy had not appeared at the door again. The little ones were crying and asking for Mother. I was scared but trying not to show it.
After being pressured to do so by us older siblings, Carlisle bravely went to the door with all of us standing behind him. He knocked repeatedly before Daddy finally opened the door. Daddy didn’t even look like Daddy. He was pale and sweaty, and clearly agitated. Worry lines covered his forehead, and he looked like he’d been crying. I’d never seen my father like that before and never did again in my life.
“I told you not to come back to the house until I called you.”
“Daddy, we’re cold and hungry. Can we come in and get some food at least?”
“NO. Do not come in the house. It won’t hurt you to miss your dinner tonight.” And he shut the door on us again.
I don’t know how long we stood in silence before Jerry had the bright idea that we might find something to eat in the kitchen garden, and he was right. We found young peas which we fed to Millie, Bobby, and Tommy. The rest of us did without dinner that night.
As darkness fell, we went to the barn and huddle together in the straw. Tommy’s shivering little body was up against mine, and after a time he cried himself to sleep. I dozed on and off until rousted awake a few hours later by Carlisle shaking my shoulder.
The rest of the story
“Gladys, wake up. Daddy’s calling.” We all unfolded ourselves from our uncomfortable straw bed and went to the house. I was shaky, but I didn’t know if it was because I was hungry, cold, or just plain scared. The doctor’s car was gone now, and I wasn’t sure if that was good or bad.
Daddy came all the way out the door and gently closed it behind him. He was no longer angry or teary-eyed, and the worry lines had relaxed a little. “You come in and go straight to bed. Let Mother be. She’s had a rough time of it. She lost the baby, and we nearly lost her, too.”
We did as we were told.
Over the course of the next few days, more details came out. When Mother lost the baby, she had complications afterwards. Daddy called the doctor because the bleeding wouldn’t stop. It was hours before the doctor got it under control. No one ever said exactly what the doctor did.
Mother was in bed for many days afterwards. She was out of bed only a little bit at a time in the beginning, and the doctor checked on her every day for a while. Eventually Mother recovered, and as far as I know there were no pregnancies after that one.
Do you have an almost forgotten story to share? Please comment below.
Copyright © 2020 Nancy H. Vest All Rights Reserved