Sunday, May 12, 2013
A Whirling Moment to Think about on Mother's Day
In early July 1972, Joyce was almost a mother. Actually, that's not right. Although she would not deliver our son until the 16th of that month, she'd been a mother since the second she'd learned she was pregnant. Fiercely, she looked out for the welfare of our unborn child, protecting him, nurturing him in every way. (I say "him," but in those days we could not learn the gender of the infant until she/he arrived.)
Married in December 1969, we were living in an apartment house, 323 College Court, in Kent, Ohio. (The red A is the building; and you can see the turn-around just past our place.) We'd been lucky to find the apartment. Mike Lenzo--the principal in the middle school where I was teaching--told us about it. A friend of his was moving out; we could move in, if we wanted. We did. The rent ... $75 a month + utilities. We could handle it ... barely. As I said, I was teaching full-time at Aurora Middle School (taking graduate classes at KSU at night and in the summers); Joyce was a full-time doctoral student. That year, I think she was enjoying a University Fellowship and did not have to teach.
One of our favorite things to do after supper was to go out in the street/court in front of our place and play Frisbee. She was very good at it and loved to fling the thing way over my head, down the court, and watch me run to try to catch it before it hit the ground. (I could run then--really.) I can hear her voice--urging me on faster, laughing whether or not I caught up with it.
We would play on into the gloaming, until she was tired. But one night we played just one toss too long. It was so dark I could barely see the Frisbee until it was arriving at my face. (I needed quick hands in those days.) "Last one!" I cried as I flipped it back toward her. She never saw it coming, and it hit her just below the right eye.
Are there worse feelings than hurting someone you love? When she's pregnant!
I raced toward her; she was as bent over as it was possible for her to be at the time. Tears--but no recriminations (Joyce is not like that). Dump trucks full of guilt. Encyclopedias of apologies. Inside to look ...
The area was red. Next morning, black and blue. (It would eventually decline to yellow before it disappeared, decades later, it seemed.) She looked exactly as if I'd punched her in the eye. Oh, the looks we got in the grocery store! Let's just say that the looks Joyce got were somewhat different from the ones I got.
In the next day or two she drove down to O'Neill's main store in Akron; her aunt Marie worked there at the perfume counter. Joyce assured her I'd not veered abusive, and Aunt Marie showed her how to apply some make-up. When she got home, she looked like someone who'd been punched and was trying to hide it with make-up.
A few days later--Steve decided it was time. Off we roared to City Hospital in Akron. (Joyce had been born there, too.) Later, Joyce told me one of the nurses had asked her, "Did your man do that to you, honey?"
And what, pray tell, is the honest answer to that?
But all went well that day; our son was born. And in the ensuing years I would see--in my own house--the most amazing motherhood, a motherhood that commenced the moment she knew she was pregnant, that will end only when it must.