My grandmother would always tell my mother, Bridget, “If you ever have a baby, I’ll kill you!”
That came from a woman who was strict about the rules of her home and the expectations of our current society’s vision of what a “young lady”should be.
These values rang true in everything my mother did. She was known affectionately as the “goody-goody” type of student and friend. Nonetheless, during an evening of flirting with a young and handsome family friend, the 16 year old beauty became locked in a passionate embrace.
Knowing it was within her best interest to maintain her virginity, she heard her mother’s warning in her head, “I mean it, don’t bring no babies home!”
Totally frightened my mother called stop!
But the young man was already, “too” excited.
“WHEW!” mom thought; she’d dodged the bullet with her good judgment.
Months would pass with no sign that I was growing inside of her. All things were normal and every 28 days, life went on as it does for women of child-bearing age.
Still, one drop of excitement from Mark, the man who was to be my father, was all I needed to spring into this world.
Several months later, mom, now 17, had been sick for a couple of days with what she thought was a stomach virus and was allowed to stay home from school.
Grandma called up the stairs that November morning, “If you’re not better tomorrow, we’re going to the doctor’s office! And you’d better not be lying to stay out of school!”
Mom sighed and willed herself back to sleep.
When she woke, her bed was completely soaked and she assumed her bladder had failed her in her sleep. Puzzled and feeling a strange lower body sensation, she went into her bathroom.
She lifted one leg to step up to the commode and, HELLO WORLD! I slipped out, right onto the floor.
Scared the poor girl to death.
Immediately her mothering instincts kicked-in and she swooped me up to clean me at the sink.
Realizing that my umbilical cord was still attached, she took me downstairs to the dining room where she sterilized a pair of utility scissors and snipped!
That was it, I was here.
Mom cleaned herself more thoroughly and for comfort she called her best friend Angela, my godmother – and the 2nd person to know of my existence.
“Oh Lord! What am I gonna do, girl? Momma is going to KILL me!”
Besides the panic, the girls pondered names for this miracle. Mom was experienced as a baby-sitter but naive about breastfeeding. Another baby’s pacifier and a makeshift diaper would have to do. She went to the refrigerator to find food.
There was a gasp. “I know! What about Melody?”
And there it was, Melody Farms milk gave me nourishment … and my name.
The rest of that day, my mother and I hid in her upstairs closet, which had a secret passage to the attic. As she tells it, just as I had all those months in her womb, I would be quiet and content through nightfall.
The next morning came and it was time for school. Grandma hollered up the stairs and the boom in her voice startled the newborn me. I let out a “WHAHH!”
“Whose baby you got up there?” grandma asked.
Softly my mom replied, “Mine.”
Holding me in her arms, she descended the steps explaining herself and my arrival. Grandma was floored at how this secret birth was kept for even a half-a-day. I was taken to Henry Ford Hospital and given an all clear.
No one could believe how I came to be and continuously asked my grandmother where this “baby” came from. Being image-conscious, grandmother attempted multiple times to get my mother to give me away – but mom protested having none of it.
Lastly, the offer was to allow us to be raised as sisters and no one would ever have to know anything. Again, my mother was firm, “NO! I had her, she is my baby!”
Mom persevered, got a job, graduated high school and then a few years later I remember her proudly putting on a cap & gown for her college graduation.
My parents always maintained a respectful friendship, but never got together. They are still very surprised at themselves at their creation of me – a miracle indeed. (To this very day they both, especially him, affirm that they didn’t “go all the way.”)
I can’t recall whether my first pair of shoes was bronzed, but I do have a pair of never-cleaned utility scissors encased in acrylic glass that sets in my mother’s home. Puzzled visitors will ask the significance and she proudly replies, “Those are the scissors I used to cut Melody’s cord when she was born.”
As usual, their interest is peaked and the telling of my HERstory begins.
Usually for Mother’s Day, I creatively attempt to show my gratitude to mom for her sacrifices. But they pale in the face of her giving me life in the most unusual of circumstances. However, characteristically, she always makes me feel that what I have done is more than enough.
This year, my goal is to honor her by sharing OURstory and the unconditional love it’s cradled in.