Aunt Mamie (Southerners pronounce it Ain’t Mamie.) hustled the four of us into Uncle Richard’s car and we headed down in the country. Now, I already thought we were in the country. We went down some dirt roads and stopped in front of a dilapidated house that was leaning at least 60 degrees to the right. For non-mathematicians, it was worst than the Leaning Tower of Pisa. It was nearly covered with brush, vines and kudzu. I sighed heavily at the thought of going into that house, but I had kinfolk in there and my curiosity was overwhelming. Besides that, Aunt Mamie was on a mission and she would have pulled me in there at my least hesitation.
Inside was Rev Sam (short for Samuel; he was a former preacher) and his wife, Betty Mae. They both were 90 something. Rev Sam was dressed in an insulated hunting outfit that went from his neck to his ankles and he had on long johns underneath. He was sitting in front of a kerosene heater that was on full blast, talking to his 70’s something brother. I was about to pass out from the heat because the temperature outside was at least 95 degrees. Betty Mae had Alzheimer’s and was sitting in the kitchen while a neighbor was combing her hair.
When we left, Aunt Mamie started in on me. “That’s what happens when you don’t have children to take care of you. Rev Sam’s brother is the one who comes to make sure they have food and he’s old himself. You better have some kids, or you’ll end up the same way!”
I was too stunned and respectful of Aunt Mamie to start explaining the reasons why I didn’t have children. I just agreed and said I’d better get some kids soon.
When I returned to Floyd in Detroit, I remember sitting on his knee, crying and stressing out about how we were going to end up like Rev Sam and Betty Mae. Floyd, the poor man, couldn’t do anymore than he was already doing. And I know he was probably making a mental note, “Last time she’s going to visit those crazy relatives!”
Well, miracles of miracles, I got pregnant the next month.
After six weeks of elation and lots of doctor ordered bed rest, I miscarried at 10 weeks. That was the last time I got pregnant.
A year or so later, my Mom and I went to visit some elderly friends, Edgar and Emma. I hadn’t seen them in years. We were all sitting around the kitchen nook and Edgar started with the questions.
“Who did you marry?”
“How many children do you have?”
“No children!! What’s the matter?!! He can’t pitch, or you can’t catch?”
I laughed, and in a flash I answered, “He pitched, I caught it, but I couldn’t hold on to it!”
We all laughed!!
Looking back on the highs and lows of our journey, I am so grateful to have had the experience of pregnancy. I wanted so much to feel the unique blessing of a woman to carry life inside of me.
Some years later, Floyd and I adopted two children. In 1989, Joel, at 5½ months old, became a part of our family. We brought Ruth home from the hospital at 10 days old in 1999.
I love my children and our family is whole.
What was your favorite part of this story?
“Is she your real daughter?” they asked me. “Real?” I questioned. “What do you mean real? She is a child not born of my flesh, that’s true. But she is a child truly born within my heart….within my soul. Yes, she is real.” An adoptive mother