Her long auburn curls are sweaty after thirty-six hours of hard labor. She raises her head from the stretcher and says, “She is beautiful.” Dr. Wilson laughs, and replies, “Newborn babies aren’t beautiful.” Mother disagrees. Love, is beautiful.
Mother’s mother died when she was nine years old. A family of seven children. Martha, the eldest, is twenty-one, and engaged to be married, instead, she stays home to help her father raise his children.
A middle-of-the-night phone call, “Come to the back alley and pick up your daughter. She bled to death on my table.” An abortion in 1927. The family now, six children, four boys, and two girls. Mother the youngest.
A family of loss, sadness, and struggle. The depression in 1929 adds yet more difficulty. Her father is a hard worker. He owns a butcher shop in Vancouver. With my quirky sense of humour; I laugh and say, “He worked his fingers to the bone”. He cut his thumb off with a meat cutter. Mother’s words describe their life, “We always had food, but underwear – not always.”
Father arrives to pick us up at the hospital; he waits at the front door. We’ve been in hospital for ten days, the usual obstetric stay in 1942. The elevator door opens. He sees his wife, sitting in a wheelchair holding a pink bundle, her long auburn hair is wound into a bun, her hazel eyes dance lighting up her freckled face. A nurse pushes the wheelchair to the car, a black 1937 Ford coupe.
Father is handsome, six feet tall with proud broad shoulders, wavy brown hair, a tanned muscular face, with a squished boxer’s nose. He walks around the car to the driver’s seat; his eyes pierce in charming, dominant blue.
We head for the country, seven miles East, a sharp left turn at the bottom of the hill, a steep incline for about a half a mile up, then a sharp right; he parks in front of the narrow brown, plank siding, dirt floor, doorless, garage. It has two glass windows on each side.
Holding me in her arms, Mother opens the car door; she cautiously steps onto the running board. Father takes both her arms, steadies her as she plants her feet on the ground. She wears a just above the ankle-length green and white cotton dress. She stands five feet two, shoulders up, and back, head up, soft hazel eyes; she looks straight ahead. She is one-hundred-and-fifty pounds, small, buxom, and beautiful.
They walk around the car, and along the sidewalk that extends close to the two-inch whitewashed, clapboard siding of their home. It’s a hot July afternoon.
Father steps up onto the four-by-four slab of cement and opens the door. Mother follows. A baby bassinette sits on a rough homemade wooden stand beside two rocking chairs. Father sits on the large rocking chair and rocks his baby. Mother sits in her rocking chair. She looks over at his exuding affection as he gazes down upon at his baby.
It’s too hot to light the wood and coal cookstove to make tea. They drink cold water piped into the house from the creek across the dirt road.