The loss of a child
I was reading about a young couple that lost their first child unexpectedly. As they contemplated having another child, a support group of couples that had been through the same adversity gave them added strength.
My grandmother had been married for 17 years to a philandering man, when she found herself pregnant for the second time. Her only child was already 16 when she delivered a seemingly healthy baby boy. Richard gave her joy in a relationship that had never been ideal. He was a happy, fat little one, born in February. Come June he was obviously not thriving as he should. He had trouble breathing, and in the Texas heat with no air conditioning in 1947, it was greatly exacerbated. She finally took him to the doctor; one of those old family doctors that had even been known to make house calls. As he listened and examined Richard, it was obvious something was wrong with his heart beat, but being an old country doctor he could do little. He sent my grandmother with her four-month old baby to a specialist that very day. My grandmother did not have a car and had ridden the bus to the doctor’s office. She had only prepared one bottle and an extra diaper not realizing she would be going to another doctor. She called my mother then 16 to get on the bus and bring her the necessary supplies to make another trip across town to another doctor knowing the entire time that it couldn’t be good. Resupplied she went alone with Richard to the specialist.
The specialist gave her the bad news. There was nothing he could do. Richard had an enlarged heart, and he would not live very long. All she could do was take him home and love him for the time she had left with him.
In comes her husband, my grandfather. He had not been home much since the baby’s birth, and as I said he was a playboy so that was not unusual. When she told him the news, he refused to believe it and insisted that they take Richard to Houston (they lived in Dallas) to a doctor that he swore was some kind of miracle man. These doctors in Dallas just didn’t know what they were talking about, so he had a relative with a car come and take his little family to Houston while he stayed home.
It was breathtakingly hot at the beginning of July, and cars with no air conditioning were the norm. For those that understand the heat of the southwest, you know it is just indescribable how stifling it can be. Upon arrival Richard was gasping for breath, so they rushed to the hospital. The relatives dropped off my grandmother and Richard, and they took my mother to another relative’s house in Houston to stay.
in a strange hospital,
my Mama Lou held her precious baby as he died in her arms a few minutes later.
He was buried in an unmarked grave in a city far from home.
There was no one to support her.
She divorced my grandfather shortly thereafter.