Gradually, DH got his strength back and his eye was open. If he looked too far up, it was obvious that there was something wrong but as long as he was looking straight ahead or side to side his eyes seemed normal. The hang gliding bug bit again and we started spending free time in the sand hills. After many Sundays of getting back into the groove he was ready to head for the mountains. We got our camping gear together and set off.
One of our friends was of Japanese/French descent and he was a pilot, too. He and DH had lots in common so he would come along on our campouts. We were ‘way up in the Rockies above Green Mountain Reservoir. The nights were cold. Before we turned in, we’d huddle in his tent where he had a camp stove going. He had a well-equipped camp kitchen, too, and would treat us to pancakes with pecans. It was the first time I was introduced to Krusteaz. No wonder the boys enjoyed the outings!
The van had been having mechanical problems so DH bought an ancient Ford Fairlane which he dubbed the Flexi-Floater after one of the first hang gliders he’d ever seen. The car (if it could be referred to as an actual car) sat very low to the ground and the floor was partially rusted out. I could lean over and see the road beneath rushing by. It ran like a top, though, and was cheaper to drive than the van.
The fellows would launch off the mountain and I would drive down the narrow winding road to the bottom to pick them up. We’d go back up and repeat the routine. The only place around with water was the reservoir so I drove the rough road to the shoreline so I could wash our dishes. On the way back to the highway, the bottom of the car collided with a rock and it immediately became obvious that the brake line was involved. We were all thankful it happened in the valley and not on the way down the mountain.
I had been battling chronic cystitis for months. It made me feel anxious, I constantly felt like I needed to pee, and it hurt. There were times I had blood in my urine, too, and it seemed I was never going to get over it. I drank huge quantities of water and bought (and drank) cranberry juice by the gallon. I’d packed, I thought, plenty of underwear but I ran out several days before we were to go home. There wasn’t anywhere I could easily wash clothes so I went “commando”. Nothing, nada under my jeans. In one day’s time, my cystitis cleared up and never came back as long as I went without underwear. I was cured!
Back home, we were already planning our next camping trip. I was watching my cycle carefully because I didn’t want to be out in the wilderness and have to cope with what we women fondly refer to as “The Curse”. I had it all figured out so we settled on a week in July, 1977. This time, the destination was a campground high up on a mountain in Montana. I don’t remember which mountain it was but it was beautiful, wild, and romantic. The boys had their own tent, our J/F friend had his, and DH and I had ours. I didn’t cycle again until many many months later. I didn’t realize what had happened for several weeks but I was pregnant.
One morning I was fixing DH’s breakfast as usual. He liked to have two fried eggs, well-done but not brown, toast, OJ, and coffee (one of those blends that comes in a tin). When I sprinkled on the Lawry’s Seasoned Salt, I thought I was going to die. Waves of nausea came over me and I ran for the bathroom. Nothing came up. I would have felt better if it had. My stomach was queasy all day. Maybe I had a bug? Next morning, it was a repeat and it didn’t take me long to grasp the reality that I was going to have a baby! We were going to have a baby! The boys were going to have a little brother or little sister! There would be an addition to the family!
I’d never had a planned pregnancy so this was doubly exciting. We had actually been successful! I was sick as a dog for a couple of months but I was with child.
Letters from Mother had disturbing news. My stepfather was in and out of the hospital with chronic anemia. He had to have periodic blood transfusions and Mother would load him up in the car and take him to North Carolina where he would be hospitalized. My brother-in-law was a doctor and while he treated my stepfather, my mother would stay with my sister. It meant a lot to have such a good support system at times like that. Pop would rally and they would go home for a few more weeks. Then it would be back to North Carolina for more blood. The prognosis wasn’t good and in September, the landlord came to the house and told me my mother had called. We still didn’t have a phone. I went down to their place and called her back. Pop had died. We cried together and I told her I loved her. It seemed an appropriate time to give her my own news—I hadn’t been to the doctor yet but I thought I was pregnant.
I called a florist in my hometown and ordered a patio tomato plant to be delivered to the funeral home. Pop had always enjoyed his tomato plants. He had them in life and he had one in death.
My happiness was dampened while my boys grieved over the loss of their PawPaw. They were closer to him that either one of their other grandfathers.
They were back in school and we’d bought a Franklin stove to help heat the house. As my pregnancy progressed, I’d spend my days in the living room in front of the fire. We also got an electric chainsaw that I used to saw up the dead trees we harvested off the nearby tree claim. Carrying in wood kept me occupied plus it gave me exercise.
We always had cats. When we’d moved to Nebraska, we had Kiki, a little black and white female stray the boys had rescued. She disappeared when she went into heat. By that time, we had Zorro (a gray striped male) and Patches (a calico female with the longest legs I ever saw on a cat). Zorro was DS1’s cat and Patches belonged to DS2. Zorro was always zipping around and bouncing off the walls, hence his name. It’s obvious why Patches was Patches. We’d get on the couch together in the quiet afternoons and nap.
Life took on a pleasant monotony. I’d get up and get everyone off in the morning, do the housework, read, crochet, and nap. When I started feeling the baby move, DH would dive under the cover at night and talk to the little guy/gal. Then he’d put his ear on my belly and listen to the heartbeat. You’d never know he’d ever been against the idea of having a child.
My birthday came and DH decreed I had been cutting wood and carrying it in long enough. The doctor had set the baby’s due date on April 21 which was two and a half months later. I was six and a half months along and I was getting big. I’d never been huge with my other two but after I got over my morning sickness (that would last all day) I ate like there was no tomorrow. I felt like I was lumbering around already and I had 10 weeks, more or less, to go.
The Flexi-Floater was pretty breezy in the winter. DH borrowed a car from a friend. It had, at one time, been a police cruiser and had a big engine in it. It wasn’t a thing of beauty but it would haul you-know-what.
My mother was visiting my sister in the Great Northwest and was working her way East. She stopped in Colorado for several weeks at my oldest sister’s place. They put her on the bus on April 21, 1978, and I picked her up in Ogallala. My appointment with my obstetrician was just after. He told me the baby wouldn’t be born on its due date but I wouldn’t be back still pregnant. Mother and I went shopping for a few last minute things like Q-tips and cotton balls. She always had a darker side that would come out at the most inopportune times. She asked, “Why are you buying those things? What if the baby doesn’t live?” Knowing my mother all too well, I brushed off the remarks and went on.
We got home, she looked around the house and was horrified. Such conditions! Out in the middle of nowhere! No phone! She was still pretty spry at 73 years of age and was able to climb the steep stairs to what was to be her bedroom for the duration. She got settled in while I went about fixing supper.
Our evening meal was bean burritos with homemade refried beans and all the trimmings. A neighbor who was also a pilot had come to visit and he and Mother were having an animated conversation. I’d sat down to eat. We had the blessing and I picked up my fork. Before I took a bite, I laid it back down and said, “DH, I think we need to go to the hospital.”