When I gave birth to my son in November,1981, I had just turned 21, was not with the father, did not have a place to live and was deliriously happy. I was super excited about this little gift from heaven and knew he was the change I needed in my life. My decisions were for us now and not just for me.
Shortly after finding out that I was pregnant, I made the decision to leave my baby’s father. I knew it wouldn’t work out when I found out that someone else was having his baby besides me. That was all I needed to sever the ties but I needed to make plans for a new life.
My family assured me that they would all be there for me and the baby. Having all brothers, they said the baby wouldn’t have to worry about the lack of a father figure and that was all music to my ears. Things would be just fine. The only problem was that I was living and working about 40 miles away. One of my brother’s told me I could stay with him for a couple weeks while my Dad got a room set up in his home. Dad lived with his girlfriend and two of her grown children so he would have some juggling to do. While I had to give up my job, the decision was made and I was going to move back to my hometown and my family.
After a month at my brother’s, tensions were starting to rise. I felt extremely awkward there and when we asked our Dad what the delay was, he would say he just needed a little extra time. After two months, my brother woke me up on a Saturday morning and said “pack your things, it’s moving day”. I was so excited to get the show on the road so we loaded my things into his pickup and headed out.
As we approached my Dad’s house I saw him waiting on the front steps. I also saw his girlfriend pacing back and forth behind him and that gave me a bad feeling. My brother and I got out of the pickup and Dad’s girlfriend proceeded to tell my Dad “she is NOT coming to live in this house”. At that moment I felt as if someone had kicked me in the stomach. I looked to my brother to say “what the hell is going on” but he wouldn’t look at me. He just started taking my things out of his pickup and throwing them on Dad’s front lawn.
I walked up to my Dad and demanded an explanation, when his girlfriend again spoke up that I was not welcome there. Now, I was waiting for Dad to tell her to shut up because I was his daughter. Blood is thicker than water isn’t it? Apparently not. Dad just sat there with his head in his hands and didn’t say one word. When I turned around again to look at my brother he was getting into his truck and driving away.
How was this even possible? How could this happen to me? This was my Dad. This was one of my brother’s. I hoped I was in a bad dream but unfortunately I was not. Another brother showed up and he wanted to rescue me by saying that I could come stay with him and his wife but she loudly protested and said “no way”.
At that point I just started walking. I walked for about a mile, tears rolling down my face and people staring as they drove past me. I must have been a sight. Five months pregnant and crying madly as I was walking down the street. I went into a phone booth and called my other brother and asked if he could come pick me up and if I could stay with him on his couch until I figured out what I was going to do. Without hesitating, he picked me up, brought me home, cried with me and then went to get my things for me. He lived in a tiny one bedroom apartment with his girlfriend, so staying there wasn’t an option.
The next few months were spent going from there to a friends and then a motel. My father felt guilty and took out a small loan so I could get what I needed. I didn’t want anything to do with him but I did need the money so I took it. The problem was that in 1981 a pregnant and single woman was frowned upon. No one wanted to rent an apartment to me. I had cash in hand but no one would agree to rent. I even brought my Dad along as a co-signer and told the potential landlords that my husband was in the military. Even that didn’t work. Things were not looking up for me and by this time I was getting pretty scared.
One day I was out by myself looking for baby clothes and an infant seat. I saw this tiny little storefront that wasn’t there when I was growing up and it advertised ‘gently’ used baby things. I started chatting with the lady who ran the place and after awhile it came out that I had no place to live and was staying in a motel. Her name was Pat and she proceeded to tell me that she belonged to a group that helped single mothers. She took my name and I gave her my friends phone number since I didn’t have a phone. I sure didn’t think it could hurt.
Meanwhile, I continued to try finding a place to live. My ninth month was approaching rapidly so I needed a place for me and my baby to call home. It wasn’t happening. I just couldn’t envision bringing a new little one home to the dumpy motel I was staying in. It wasn’t a decent place.
Eventually I went into labor and delivered my baby knowing I had no place to call home. Still, I was so happy when he was born and I promised him I’d protect him. My doctor knew my situation and he let me stay in the hospital an extra few days hoping my family would have a change of heart. That didn’t happen.
On the day before I was to be discharged, my hospital phone rang and it was Pat. She had called my friend and was told I had the baby so she called me right away. She said that she knew of an older couple through her church who signed up to help single mothers if they could. They were willing to rent a room to me in their home since their kids were all grown and on their own. Pat asked if I would be interested.
(The home for me and my son for the first year of his life.)
Naturally, I asked Pat what these people were like. Would my baby and I be safe? She assured me these people were very nice and she was comfortable doing this for me. Without much choice, I agreed to it. I didn’t sleep a wink that night.
The next day Pat was picking me up from the hospital and driving us to this couple’s home. To say I was terrified is an understatement. As I walked up to their front door and rang the bell I felt sick to my stomach. Then, the door opened and there stood the sweetest looking woman with a smile that could light a room. Her name was Doris and she was so excited. She called for her husband, “John, John the baby’s here”!
(Doris loved having a baby in the house again.)
At that moment I knew this was going to work. Doris and John made me feel so welcome and they adored my son. I stayed with them for a year and the day I moved out was my wedding day. I met my husband where I began working after moving in with them. The wedding was held in their home and given with love, friendship and support, and the relationship continues to this day.
(My wedding day! A wonderful day for a new family.)
(Doris and John – on the right – on vacation with my son.)
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