Parenthood


If you watch the news on TV or read newspapers, magazines, or the internet, there seem to be plenty of news-worthy (apparently) individuals ending their marriages.  And, the media constantly reports that 50% of marriages in the United States will end in divorce — although that statistic is somewhat unreliable because all States do not report on divorces.  Also, some of the numbers may be incorrectly interpreted.

Despite the statistics, I know from time to time I’ll hear an account that supports the notion that enduring love still exists — marriages lasting longer than 50 years do occasionally make it into the headlines.  And, after surviving that long a marriage is unlikely to end in divorce.

What emotion is needed to power the Love Meter

Are humans the only creature on this planet which can bond for life — apparently NOT!  Scientists tell us that there are other members of the animal kingdom which form life-long pairings — sea horses for one.  Does that qualify as enduring love?

As a youngster, I remember being told that Canada Geese mate for life.  Storks also mate for life — I wonder if that may have influenced why some adults told children that babies were delivered by storks?  Now, I’ve learned of a news story which speaks to the persistence, and perhaps enduring love, of a pair of storks.

A female stork had been shot by some hunters in Croatia.  When she was found she was taken to a veterinarian.  The vet knew that her wing had been damaged to badly for her to ever fly again.   Although no one could be sure that she would live, an attempt was made to heal her.  And, they named her Malena.

Since her injury in 1993, Stjepan Vokic has taken care of Malena — she lives in a nest on the roof of his house.  He is so committed to her survival that he discontinued his cellphone service so he could afford to feed Malena, especially during the winters.

Approximately 8 years ago

One day Stjepan noticed another stork with Malena — seems that a male had found her and fell in love.   Stjepan gave the name Rodan to the male stork.  The pair raised a clutch of chicks that year — Rodan taught the chicks to fly because his partner cannot.

Since storks spend their winter in South Africa, each August Rodan and the young will start to prepare for their long journey of about 8000 miles.  According to observers, Malena is sad for weeks after Rodan flies away.

Malena remains in Brodski Varos until the return of her mate in the spring — which amazingly occurs on the same date and at about the same time of day each year.  Except that this year he arrived a day early!

Weeks before his return each March, Malena is impatiently waiting for Rodan on the roof and preparing the nest.  These two beautiful birds have raised 32 little storks during the last 8 years.

Amidst so many stories of pain, despair and misery I find this to be a wonderful story of perseverance, persistence and tenacity .  I hope you have enjoyed reading it.    😎

My first wife and I were married in January 1967 (I’ll refer to her as Katy) —  we were both 19 years old.  Today is Katy’s birthday, and I dedicate this post to her memory. While she is not the first girl I remember falling in love with (that distinction goes to Joanne MacNett, who I knew before I started school),  Katy is the second girl I remember falling for.  And, Katy was a force that influenced me during more than half my life!

When I told my parents of my engagement to Katy they were somewhat surprised– perhaps because Katy and I had been “on-again off-again sweethearts” since about 5th grade. Or, perhaps because while attending school in Virginia the last half of 1965 I had informed my parents, during Christmas break, of my plans to marry a girl there.  But, that relationship was short-lived and ended before Spring came!

I met Katy while attending a school for the handicapped in Wilmington, Delaware

I entered John G. Leach School in 3rd grade — when it was felt I should no longer attend the local public schools.  It was typical, at the time, for the disabled to be accumulated from many different districts and segregated into a single school based on their handicap.   Although riding on a common bus, the blind were taken to one school; the deaf to a different school; those considered retarded went to a 3rd school; and, the rest of us went to a 4th specialized school. My school bus picked me up first each morning and dropped me off last.  Even though I only lived about 15 miles from the school, I was on the bus about 1 hour and 30 minutes each way — we had to pick-up and drop-off students with other handicaps at their schools!

The school was in a 3-story building with a very small elevator. I don’t know what the building’s original purpose had been. The area between the building and the wrought-iron fence around it was all asphalt — which worked fine for us crippled kids!

Katy had attended Catholic schools until starting Leach in 4th grade.  The first time I remember seeing her was at recess — we had different teachers, but we went outside together. Katy used crutches and had leg braces from her shoes to just below her knees. I found her bright smiling face appealing — I was attracted to her from that moment on!

My wife-to-be had been born prematurely, and perhaps with a damaged spine — Katy’s mother had fallen down some stairs only a few days before giving birth.  (I came to learn that Katy had undergone spinal surgery during the year before starting at Leach.)  Weighing less than two pounds at birth, the doctors weren’t sure she would live very long — Katy was 57 years 7 months old when she died of complications several days after the surgical removal of one of her kidneys.

Katy never did grow taller than 4 foot 1 inches. Although, she might have been 4 to 5 inches taller if her spine hadn’t been so severely twisted — medical diagnosis is kyphoscoliosis (her spine was arched/bent front to back and side to side).  But, within a few years of our meeting, Katy had gotten rid of the braces and started using a cane, instead of crutches. Katy weighed around 65 pounds when we were wed — some people said she looked like a porcelain doll in her wedding gown.

Exciting News!

When we learned that Katy was pregnant we were very excited!  Also, somewhat apprehensive — we were still living in our little bungalow next to the stable (for more on that experience follow this link) and hadn’t been able to save much money.  Katy was our only source of income for almost a full year — working as a secretary for a small industrial company in Wilmington.  I had only returned to steady employment about a month before we got the news of Katy’s pregnancy.  And, we had just bought a new car — the old one had become unreliable.  The timing seemed not to have been the best.  However, none of that mattered much.  We were going to be parents and would do the best we could, with what we had available!

One curious thing, unexpected by me, occurred as Katy began to show her state of pregnancy — word began to reach us that some of the older women in the community were wondering how Katy had gotten pregnant.  They speculated that because I was in a wheelchair I “couldn’t be the father!” Perhaps they went to their graves wondering about it — one of many incorrect perceptions regarding those of us with physical handicaps.

Katy’s due date was set for mid-February — her doctor had told us that delivery would be by C-section (cesarean section) because she was so small. As the delivery date came closer we had to make some changes:

  • Katy had to quit her job about 6 weeks before her due date — her office was up a flight of stairs;
  • We needed to return to living with my parents about 4 weeks before delivery because we had no phone in our bungalow — it was in Maryland.

After working the night shift at the U of D, I had gone to sleep around 8am — when I awoke, mid-afternoon, Katy told me she felt some contractions.  After a quick call to the Doctor, the expectant parents and both of our mothers were soon in a car traveling to Wilmington.  I had received instructions not to rush — to take my time.  Which is what I did.  But, the soon-to-be-grandmothers became anxious and started asking why I was taking so long to reach the doctor’s office!

Having been told to stay in the car, I waited for the women to return with their next set of instructions for the father-to-be.  😎  Soon, the four of us were traveling together again.  This time we were going to the hospital — about 10 blocks away.

It wont be long now!

I dropped the trio at the Maternity Entrance and began looking for a parking space. I needed a level space that was open on the driver’s side — otherwise, I would not be able to get out of my car without help.  Eventually, I found a suitable space and pulled by manual wheelchair from behind the driver’s seat.  Using a homemade wooden transfer board, I slid into the wheelchair and pushed myself back to Maternity.  My mother was standing outside the entrance looking for me when I got there.

Katy had been taken to an examination room so I got a nurse to take me to her.  Everything was going well and she was being prepped for the c-section.  After an hour, or so, we were told that the doctor was in the operating room and Katy was taken to him.

I joined the rest of the people hanging-0ut in the waiting room.  My mom, Katy’s mom, lots of people waiting for other women to give birth and perhaps others waiting for Katy — I no longer remember after that time of chaos and jubilation 41 years ago.

Our message came shortly after 8pm — Katy had delivered a healthy baby girl.  The new grandmothers and I were taken to recovery to see Katy and our child!  That is a once in a lifetime experience for me.

Despite the ups and downs of our twenty-year marriage, and ultimate divorce, I will always remain grateful to Katy for sharing it with me!  And, for her role in bringing forth our daughter.  😎