Strand of Pearls II

More on My Life

The continuation of "Strand of Pearls." More of my life story.

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Emptiness

The days and nights were filled with emptiness in the Strand home after Henry's passing. All of the children began acting up and lashing out. The little cape cod, where they had lived comfortably, began closing in on them. All ten of them fought for their mother's attention; not wanting to share her. Not one of them knew where they stood or what to do with themselves. There was a gaping hole in their world and without realizing it they were taking their grief out on each other.

Betty had become a hollow shell. She was so in love with this man, she nearly worshiped him. She thought maybe that he had been taken away from her because she placed him above God. There was so much darkness even in the light of day, Betty knew she loved her children deeply but at this point she could not feel it.

Betty would only allow herself to cry in the privacy of her room. She didn't want her children to share her burden. She didn't believe that they needed any extra sadness. She didn't realize that not sharing her grief with them only strained them more. Withholding her feelings may have caused some to feel unloved. Of course since she couldn't feel it herself how could she show it properly. She felt so numb and unreal; as if it were all a dream, she was just sleep walking. She just knew she would wake to find this horrible nightmare gone.

But the nightmare never ended and she still went from day to day as if in a trance. Going through the motions of living much as she had done before as a mother but no longer as a wife. Family and neighbors stopped by bringing food and offering their condolences. She accepted their assistance, yet she was so withdrawn--pulling away from the world. She began to feel as if she didn't belong anymore and stopped going to family functions. She had died right along with Henry.

A Little Bit of Hope

One day, as Betty was going about her household chores, the children were getting along a little better and her load felt a bit lighter. Those who were old enough were performing chores quietly, listening to records on the stereo as they worked. the music seemed to soothe everyone in the house.

Darlene was too small to help so she sat on the back of the couch looking out the picture window. Suddenly, she started hollering to her mother, "Mommy, daddy!" pointing out the window."Daddy, daddy!" Betty looked out to see who her little girl could have mistaken for her father, only to see no one there. So, she went on with folding the laundry. Darlene continued to claim that her father was there and wanted her to come play, she was so certain that Betty began to wonder if maybe her daughter could see something that she could not. She had always believed that infants could see and hear God, angels, and those who had passed on. Darlene was not an infant but it was still possible that she could.

That evening as Betty tried to sleep, she felt a presence enter her room. She sensed someone walk over and sit on the edge of her bed. The bed weighed down and leaned in one direction for a moment then in the other direction as if taking off shoes.Then the presence laid down beside her and loving arms wrapped around her holding her close. She knew in her heart it was Henry, he had come to comfort her.

Orphans

"Donna, would you come down here, please?" Betty hollered from her bedroom. Donna was the oldest child the only one over sixteen. Donna made her way down the hall to her mother's room expecting to be asked to run to the store for milk, but what she saw when she entered the room shocked her. Betty sat crumpled over her enlarged abdomen in pain and there was a pool of blood on the bedding. At first Donna couldn't think, but it only took a second for her to realize she needed to get her mother to the hospital.

The Doctor worked diligently, trying to stop the bleeding but was unable. He began to fear for the child Betty carried in her womb and decided he needed to perform a cesarean section to save the baby's life. After the birth of her son she began to hemorrhage again. Investigating the cause the doctor found that her uterus had collapsed. Betty was still a bit groggy from the last surgery but knowing that she was a bleeder the doctor knew he had to do something fast. "You don't need that old thing anymore do you?" Dr. Phelan asked her about her uterus. She stared for a second then slowly shook her head.

Back in surgery the doctor performed an emergency hysterectomy to end the bleeding. But Betty had lost so much blood that her vitals dropped drastically. Concerned Dr. Phelan turned to the nurse, "Contact Betty's parents, they will want to be here!" Wanda obediently, headed for the door. "Never Mind, She's gone!" the doctor exclaimed. Shaking his head and leaving the room. As he did so he muttered to himself, "How do I break this to those children so soon after losing their father?"

Betty's body lay still on the table covered with a cloth but her spirit soared to reunite with her late husband. She reached him and they held each other for a few moments. "You've got to go back." Henry told her then added, "Someone has to take care of our children." Betty felt so peaceful and happy she didn't want to leave but she knew he was right. Their children needed her, she couldn't bear the thought of them being separated.

As the doctor was leaving the room Wanda called out shakily, "Doc, you might want to come back here. She's just sat up!" Dr. Phelan thought her silly, "Sometimes bodies twitch a bit, it's just the nerves." he stated. But as he could see once he turned around, Betty had returned to her body. "You are one amazing lady!" the doctor said shaking his head. "I had one foot in heaven and my husband kicked me back down." Betty informed them hoarsely, with a weak smile.

Baker's Dozen Minus One

"You sure make beautiful babies." Wanda smiled at the newborn in Betty's arms as she wheeled her to the car waiting down stairs to take her and her preemie home. He was born 6 weeks early. Only 2 months after Henry passed away. Betty became quiet and her eyes misted up as she thought of how happy Henry would have been to finally have his Mitchell Ivan. She thought of how sad it was that the two would never meet. "When this baby is born we'll make a Baker's Dozen!" Henry teased with her when he was told of her pregnancy. He was always so proud of each one of his children.

The ride home was quiet as Mitchell slumbered and Betty rested her body in the passenger seat. Her mind was another matter however, as she thought of how 1964 had been a very stressful year already and it was only March. She hoped that the little amount of money the government allowed her from her husband's Social Security would stretch far enough. It would be hard to feed and clothe eleven children with the amount doled out for only three. The Veteran's Administration was the same, she was only allowed to have three children on it at a time.

She couldn't complain about the government though, it was certainly better than nothing and they had helped her and Henry purchase a brand new house when he came home from the war. The first house built on that block; a freshly built Cape Cod. They had three children when the house was finally ready for them to move in. Henry III was just tall enough to cut his teeth on the windowsill of the large picture window. Now there were going to be eleven children running through that house, but Henry would not be there to chase them around and tussle with them.

© copyright 2010

15 comments

crock 6 years ago

This was wonderful Darlene keep up the great work


Linda49235 profile image

Linda49235 6 years ago from Michigan

You sure are pouring it out! That's wonderful, keep it up!


Enlydia Listener profile image

Enlydia Listener 6 years ago from trailer in the country

Keep writing...you have a very moving story...I am rating this up.


katiem2 profile image

katiem2 6 years ago from I'm outta here

What a refreshing topic on strand of Pearls. I enjoyed reading your work and look forward to hearing more from you. Thanks and Peace :)


Dardia profile image

Dardia 6 years ago from Michigan Author

Thanks Katiem2! I guess I never thought of my life as refreshing but now that you mention it, I believe it is. There are many things that were sad but there were many insightful, loving wonderful things in my life as well. My mother was a terrific role model -- she was certainly refreshing! God bless you and keep you safe, always, Momma! That was one thing she always did. she always blessed us not only with words but with who she was.


frogyfish profile image

frogyfish 6 years ago from Central United States of America

Dardia, your pearls are lovely glowing beautiful strands. That means you are also, since you are writing about yourself. I just can't wait for the beautiful endings...


Dardia profile image

Dardia 6 years ago from Michigan Author

Frogyfish, thank you for your kind words! I hope I can write this story well, as it deserves. There are so many parts of my life that deserve their own story and I will have to condense some and combine some. But hopefully it will not lose anything this way. Thanks, again!


Sally's Trove profile image

Sally's Trove 6 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania

As you go through this process of telling the story of your life, you will be telling the stories of the lives of others.

Your candor is refreshing, and it is more than that. It is also a path to courage, by way of taking risks that can show others that they can be open and genuine.

As for the strand of pearls... this is a metaphor in my life, but for different reasons. For now, thank you for sharing these intimacies of your life. Perhaps some day I can write my strand of pearls.

I barely know you, but I feel you have a gift to give to all writers who question what they think they should reveal or not.


Dardia profile image

Dardia 6 years ago from Michigan Author

Thanks Sherri! You made me tear up a bit there. My mother used to say that she was rich with love and that her pearls were in the smiles of her children. And since our last name was Strand we became a Strand of Pearls.

I would like to read your Strand of Pearls Story.


JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 6 years ago from Central Oklahoma

'What is life but memories strung together like a strand of pearls.' Or something like that. You're Darlene, right? How sad for you to lose your daddy at such a young age. Please continue this beautiful series. :-)


Dardia profile image

Dardia 6 years ago from Michigan Author

Thank you, JamaGenee! I will continue with the series. I am just having difficulty knowing how to start the next part because I was so young I don't know a lot of the facts. I was told all that I have written so far by my beautiful mother who is no longer with us. So it is up to my siblings to help fill in the blanks. Unfortunately, they say they don't remember a lot and are not sure where I should pick it back up. But I have a sister day coming up and I will certainly be picking their brains for all the little morsels I can use.


jennyjenny profile image

jennyjenny 6 years ago from Somewhere in Michigan

You rock! I mean that. I am glad that you are using your creative side and coming out of your shell. You have been an inspiration to me, my friend. (whether you know it or not) :) Love Ya, Girl!


Dardia profile image

Dardia 6 years ago from Michigan Author

Thanks, Jen! You are the one who is an inspiration. I often wonder how you manage to do all that you do. I guess with so much pressure it is not all that surprising that you had a heart attack at such a young age. Keep being you but slow down a bit I'd like to keep you around awhile. You need to come out to the Dam Site and sing on the 17th and 18th, though. If you can squeeze that in. I miss hearing you belt those songs out!

Love ya'

Dar


Enlydia Listener profile image

Enlydia Listener 5 years ago from trailer in the country

Dardia, I just read this for the second time...the tears are still in my eyes...Could you continue this story, but from your viewpoint? I would like to read it. How did your mother manage? How did each one of you manage? How did you manage? Yes, I think you were able to see your father in spirit...children are blessed with eyes like that.


Dardia profile image

Dardia 5 years ago from Michigan Author

Thank you, Enlydia!

You read it twice? :) I have thought of writing it from my viewpoint and I think I will give it a try since I am stuck with this point of view. My mother's belief is what saw us through. She found out she was a much stronger woman than she had thought she was, at least in faith, and her faith helped to carry her burden. Most of us inherited that same trust in God. I can say I have never been hungry and have always had a place to lay my head with shelter above and I have always been warm or cool enough to survive. I believe God has always taken care of me.

May God bless you and keep you safe always!!! +

Darlene

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