I sat in this rocking
chair; the very one I sit in now. Mother
her Bible open to
James 1:17, 'Every good gift and every perfect gift
is from above, and
cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is
neither shadow of turning.' I was reading the words
when the shrilling
doorbell sent the lighting flash through my body.
I walked to the front door holding my breath, my hand on my
Through the sheer
curtains, past the blue star in the window, I saw the
silhouette of the
burgundy flowered carpet
slammed into my
body. Mother's blurry face
hovered just out of my
The boy stood behind her with the yellow envelope still in his
It had only been two months since my husband, Martin's, furlough.
not to cry, and not succeeding in the least.
will get the diamond after the war, to go with this
wedding band,” he
said. “We will build a
house in the country,” he
said. “We will
have lots of babies.”
Every night I dreamed of the time he would be home and of the
we would have.
The morning after the caboose disappeared from sight I went to
factory, playing my own version of Rosie the riveter.
worked the day shift
and took care of the house and the five cows, all
that was left of a
once successful dairy farm that died the day daddy
Two months after that auction sale, on Thanksgiving Day, mother
dropped the hot
A new wheel chair became the second
part of her being.
Not only was she crippled, but very fearful.
fell to relying on
me for almost everything. With
the loss of Martin's
medical bills, and the needed repairs to the
farmhouse, I had no
choice but to go to work. Mother
was old before
her time, and many
times depressed, but she was always my biggest
I lay on the carpet in my mother's arms. The dream was over and
I was in bed for four days. Night
was day and
day could have been
summer or frost. It made no
difference. My head
reeled and my
stomach churned. Mother
called the doctor.
After he examined me he sat at the kitchen table with Mother and
When I came down
Mother said, “I will be in the garden, honey,” and
rolled her chair
through the French doors.
There were no surprises. “You
are pregnant,” he said. Again
ran down my face. He
talked comforting meaningless words, “You can do
This baby can be a joy to you.”
“Yes, yes, Doctor,” I said. “Did you tell Mother?”
“No, that is for you to tell.”
Then after I poured myself a cup of tea
I went out to see
Mother. I was faced with the
greatest decision of my
life and I knew I
would not tell her.
That night I lay under the ‘double wedding ring' quilt that
her friends had made
for our wedding present. I
worrying about the
sin I was planning. I was up
against the wall. I
thought of mother's
needs against the life growing within me; the house
needing a new roof
and the insurance benefits that would only last so
Then softly, like an echo in my mind, I could almost hear the
tiny cries and smell
the wee, pink body. It was
like a life in
review—but of a
life not lived. It was a
wretched night but with the
rising sun I had
reached my decision. I knew
what I had to do. With a
heavy heart I headed
toward the barn. God would have to forgive me. ...
Then next morning
when mother took her bath I called an old high school
acquaintance who was
in her last year of nurses training.
I waited nervously in a booth at the back of the
Mother was pleased
that I wanted to go out. I
read the menu—not seeing
When I heard the click of high heels I looked up and there
was Marjorie, wild,
red hair curled tightly around her freckled face,
polished. “I'm so sorry to
hear about Martin, Della. It
must be awful.”
“It is awful—unbearable, and no one knows the worst of it.
That's why I
needed to see you,
Marjorie. I'm pregnant.”
“Della, how wonderful!” Marjorie
smiled warmly. “You will
a part of Martin
with you in his little baby.”
“No, Marj, you don't understand.
It's not wonderful. I
can't raise a
baby on my own.
I want an abortion.”
Marjorie looked in both directions and leaned closer over the
don't say that word. Abortions
are illegal. I could get
into trouble just
talking to you about it.”
“Please help me. You
are the only one I know who might know someone who
would do it.”
“No, I could get in so much trouble I would never get my RN and
“Please, no one will know.” I pleaded trying to keep the
of my voice.
Marjorie protested but finally agreed.
She had heard of a man who did
these things in the
basement of his home. He had
been a medical
student and for some
reason or other he didn't stay in medicine.
place was clean and
his wife assisted him.
I told Mother that Marjorie and I were going on an overnight
Mother was encouraged. Marjorie
was going to do some shopping
in order to have
things to take back.
She said, “He insists on being called Doctor Hope.”
I really didn't
care what he wanted
to be called. I just wanted
this to be over. As we
rode we talked. The
conversation was as light as possible under the
Then she told me; I was young. I
again and I said I
never would. I knew it that
day and I never have.
one of the apples we had brought and we rode the next
few miles in
silence. Then she looked at
me. She wore white side
combs in her red
hair, red beads and earrings and a red bracelet that
she pushed up and
down her arm when she was nervous. She
pushed it up
and down now.
“Della, is this really what you want to do?” she asked.
“Yes, I have to.” She
bit her lip but said nothing more.
When we saw the sign saying, 'Piano Lessons' Marjorie parked the
in the driveway and
I followed her to the side door with my bag in my
A middle-aged, motherly looking woman greeted us and led the way
down stairs. I
glanced in the other direction into her kitchen and
perking. The smell nauseated
me. She opened the door
to an office and
smiling said, “This is Doctor Hope.”
demeanor gave me
some reassurance. I was glad
to sit down in the chair
The coffee smell was almost overwhelming.
Marjorie asked, “Do you want me to stay?”
Dr. Hope answered for me. “No,
you can leave, dear. Come
back in four
I heard the engine start and Dr. Hope began to talk.
“You know these
illegal and I could get into a lot of trouble if anyone
talked about it.
Women should have the right to make decisions about
their own bodies.
Don't you think so?”
I was beyond thinking. Mrs.
Hope took me to another room that appeared
to be a young boy's
bedroom. It had two beds.
One was covered with a
with cowboys and horses. The
other was raised
about twelve inches
and made up with a white bed linen under a rubber
Mrs. Hope unlocked the dresser drawer and took out a
I could see the outline of medical instruments under the cover
of a tea towel.
Mrs. Hope smiled and said she would be back shortly.
In a few minutes she
returned and handed me a white hospital gown and
said, “Are you
Now forty years later, I sit here in mother's rocking chair in
progressive thinking and consider, “A woman's body is her
Dr. Hope said so. That
was long ago. Only Marjorie
that day, and only
once did she say, “Are you sure you made the right
I glance through a gardening magazine and the gentle buzz of my
telephone brings me
“Hi, Gran, it's Marty, guess what?
Did I make the right decision all those years ago?
'Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh
from the Father of
lights with whom is no variableness, neither shadow
of turning.' Isn't