I’m in my 75th year of life, so believe me when I say there’s been a lot. A lot of joy. Sorrow. Pain. Fear. Success and failure. Faith and doubt. You name it; I’ve probably experienced it. It hasn’t been hard to remember the gems—those events so laced with emotion that I can feel them now. But all these years of living have involved many uneventful, ordinary days too.
Or were they?
If I could, I’d go back and take note of seemingly ordinary occurrences that could be diamonds in the rough. Like the subjects of my kids’ and grandkids’ arguments. What in the world did they argue about? Knowing that could inform my writing today.
What were the subjects of the notes we girls passed in class in the 1950s and ‘60s? What did I do with the seldom-used clothing that hung in my closets over the years? Why didn’t I even wonder what Mother thought and felt when I told her the umpteenth sewing project I needed—right away? Why did I turn away that perfectly wonderful young man? What were the last words I spoke to Daddy that seemingly ordinary day?
February 19, 1975 began as just another long, tedious day in bed. Four months of premature labor had kept me flat on my back and bored out of my mind. As it turned out, that day will remain in my memory always.
“Your baby is frank breech,” the physician said at an ordinary appointment later that ordinary day.
“So, you’ll do a C-section?” I said.
He looked at me as if I’d lost my mind. “Why? I know how to deliver a breech baby.”
So, off to the Army hospital delivery room we sped. Word spread that a frank breech delivery was happening. Scrubs-clad employees encircled the room. Literally.
I shut my eyes, praying they’d get bored and go away.
The nurse wheeled me into a room shared by five other mothers. “Here are your bed sheets. Your personal care items are over there.” She pointed to a blue plastic wash pan. “You can pick up your meal tray at the nurse’s station.” As she left the room, I had no idea I wouldn’t see her again for hours.
Shell shocked, I did as I was told and asked when I could go home. “It’ll be a few days,” the doctor said as I hacked, and hacked, and hacked with bronchitis.
The next day the nurse entered with my little one bundled in a blanket. “Time to feed your baby.”
“Aww,” I would have said if I could. Laryngitis and I had become fast friends. Did I mention wearing a mask 24/7?
Then my child’s projectile vomiting began.
“I’m afraid your baby can’t go home with you,” the doctor said as I packed my bags three days later. My little boy had turned yellow and couldn’t survive without “the light.”
Disheartened and worried beyond reason, I entered my home with empty arms.
Over the following four not-so-ordinary days, I returned to the hospital to rock and feed the little rascal on HIS schedule, even through the night. On one occasion, a doctor performed another baby’s circumcision beside me in the nursery. The physician didn’t act like anyone else was in the room. Eeegads!
As my son developed, he was a challenge like no other, transforming them into not so ordinary after all. By seventeen months, he was way too curious for his own good—and mine. He woke me at night, roaming the house, examining the kitchen, climbing onto cabinets, pulling food from the refrigerator, and even crawling out his bedroom window at nap time, only to be returned by strangers driving by. I had no idea he wasn’t in his bed!
Eventually, I took him to a specialist who said, “What seems to be the problem?”
“That’s what I want to know. From what I can tell, the message isn’t getting from this boy’s bottom to his brain.”
He chuckled. “Leave him with me. Come back in four hours.”
When I returned, Lane crawled onto my lap, and I looked to the physician. “Go ahead. Tell me what’s wrong.”
“Ma’am, the only thing wrong with this child is whether or not YOU are smart enough to rear him.”
And so, it began and never stopped, one not-so-ordinary day after another. After forty-six years, I’ve collected a chest load of gems. But I wonder how many jewels I overlooked on all the ho-hum days. If I could go back, I’d keep a journal of my days as an ordinary mother doing ordinary motherly things. Today, those would be gems.
Meanwhile, I’m setting up a scene for a 1924 novel and wish for such a journal written in my grandmother’s hand. It would be packed with gems. In particular, I’d love her written account of Christmas 1923. The family was traveling from Oklahoma to the southernmost tip of Texas in covered wagons when they stopped for Christmas in Winters, Texas.
You can read what gems I captured from her spoken memories—and a slew I made up—in my latest, A Sojourner’s Christmas, to be released July 2021. Meanwhile, the story that inspires A Sojourner Christmas is Soon the Dawn, available at https://amzn.to/2JSpJLe.If I could go back, I’d keep a journal of my days as an ordinary mother doing ordinary, motherly things. Today, those would be gems. @LBrooksDavis #ACFWBlogs #writetip #critiques #ACFWCommunity Click To Tweet
Linda Brooks Davis was born and reared on a farm in Raymondville, a small Rio Grande Valley community in the southernmost tip of Texas. She retired in 2008 after forty years as a special educator and administrator and now writes inspirational historical fiction from her home in San Antonio, Texas. Readers may contact Linda through her website, www.lindabrooksdavis.com.