In honor of my dear brother’s birthday, I have decided to post an excerpt from my book that chronicles the day he was born.
Unforgettable (Trudy’s Story)
Copyright Ó 2011 by Donald Philip Massetti
All rights reserved. No part of this book or blog may be used or reproduced by any means, graphic, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, taping or by any information storage retrieval system without the written permission of the author except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.
This is a novel based on the true-life events of Gertrude Abate.
Aside from immediate family, names have been changed to protect the privacy and the rights of all other individuals.
Saturday, September 8, 1947
Mario was sitting at the kitchen table sipping from a cold bottle of 7-Up in a futile attempt to stay cool as he looked over at Trudy. He couldn’t help but smile to himself as he took in the roundness of his pretty young wife. She was nine months pregnant, in fact, past her delivery date and in the past few weeks; her normally tiny waist had swollen so large that it even separated the pleats in her maternity tops! He knew that she must be uncomfortable. Although August had ended and they were already a week into September, you would never have known it by the temperature. Even at this morning hour, the summer heat was oppressively strong and there was surely no relief to be found in their tiny basement apartment.
Mario took his handkerchief out from his pocket and wiped the sweat from the back of his neck. He was just about to complain about the heat when he caught himself in time. No, if Trudy wasn’t complaining about it then he sure as heck had no right to do so. He wondered how he got so lucky. He watched his wife as she sat in her chair reading the paper. He admired the way she would read the paper from cover to cover each and every day. He loved watching his “cotton top.” He remembered the very first time he had cast his eyes upon her from the barber’s chair. Mario watched as Trudy touched her finger to her tongue to aid in turning the page. He noticed that she suddenly frowned for a moment placing her hand on her stomach. Before he could ask if everything were all right, her frown was gone and she returned to her reading.
“Whew, that was close” he thought. Still he knew that the baby would be coming at any time now and he was prepared for it. Trudy had packed a small bag to bring to the hospital and Mario kept it right next to the front door so that he could quickly grab it on their way out. He kept taxi fare in his pocket at all times so when the moment came, the couple would not have to think about anything but getting to the hospital.
Instinctively, Mario looked over at the door to make sure the bag was still there. He was relieved to see that it was. From the corner of his eye he thought he saw Trudy frown again but when he turned his head to look at her, she was reading the paper once more. Then it happened once again. This time however, Trudy clearly became alert and before Mario could get the words out, Trudy made the announcement that she believed the baby was ready.
In a flash Mario was up on his feet and at Trudy’s side. He took her by the arm and grabbing the little suitcase with his other hand; he helped his wife out the door.
Out on the street, Mario hailed a cab in record time and before they knew it, the couple was walking through the emergency room doors of the hospital.
Trudy was taken away in a wheelchair while Mario gave the nurse at the desk the information that she needed before banishing him to the “new daddies” waiting room.
Mario sat in the waiting room talking to other dads. One by one they each received news about their new baby while Mario heard nothing about his wife. A whole new group of dads had come into the waiting room and their babies also came, while still no news about Trudy.
“It’s like that sometimes sir” a busy nurse told him. “I know your anxious, but try to relax. Every woman is different and it takes longer for some than others, especially if it’s their first baby. If something were wrong, they would let you know. Now you just sit down and we’ll come get you as soon as she delivers.”
Mario looked at the door as it closed behind the nurse. He couldn’t help wondering what exactly was going on for poor Trudy while he was trapped here waiting?
The doctor examined Trudy for the fourth time. “I’m sorry Mrs. Massetti but your still not dilated enough yet” he said apologetically.
“For Heaven’s sake doctor, I’ve been here for hours; more than half a day. Why aren’t I dilating if the contractions are so strong?” Trudy asked through her exhaustion.
“We’re going to need you to keep walking. It’ll help get things moving and bring the baby on,” said the young doctor.
The fact was that Trudy had been walking. She didn’t know how many miles she had already covered, walking up and down those hospital corridors for hours, while doubled over with painful contractions.
Trying to sound encouraging, the doctor continued, “I’m really sorry and I know you’re exhausted but it is very necessary for you to keep walking. It’s the only thing you can do to help yourself along right now.”
Two nurses helped Trudy to stand, and back out into the hall she went in the hopes of having this baby soon. The heat and humidity were stifling. She tried not to look at the clock. Watching the time only made it worse. As she held onto the wall for balance, Trudy saw another young mother. Without enough strength to stand any longer, this poor woman was crawling on the floor! As Trudy came by, their eyes met and for a moment they felt each other’s pain. They looked at each other as if to say, I understand and I am with you my sister. Trudy silently sent a prayer out for the other women and continued to walk. As she did, she overheard two nurses talking. One was telling the other about a crazy hat a woman had worn to church that morning and that’s when Trudy realized that it was not even Saturday any longer. It was now Sunday… Sunday afternoon!
Finally, thirty-six hours after they arrived at the hospital, a nurse came through the door with news for Mario.
“Congratulations Mr. Massetti,” the nurse beamed, “You have a baby boy. A perfect baby boy that weighed in at eleven pounds! No wonder it took so long” she said as she instructed Mario to go to the nursery window to see his son. “As soon as we get your misses comfortable and into a room, you can go see her as well.”
Mario ran to the nursery to see his new son. The nurse held the baby up to the window so Mario could have a better look. He was a beautiful baby, perfect in every way. Next to all the other newborns that surrounded him, baby Massetti looked like he was a couple of months old already. He had rosy cheeks and a mop of curly hair. Mario decided that he looked like Trudy.
Still waiting for the okay to go see his wife, Mario went over to the pay phone by the waiting room and called his father with the news. Papa was ecstatic. It was his first grandchild! A boy… and such a big healthy one too!
He told his son that he would call the others and will head on down to the hospital to see his new grandson. He should be there in less than thirty minutes.
Placing the receiver back onto the phone, Mario swallowed hard and took a deep breath. He knew what he had to do. He lifted the receiver once more, dropped in another dime and began to dial.
After four rings Lily’s voice answered on the other end.
“Hello” she said.
Mario took another deep breath and as he did an impatient Lily continued to speak. “Hello. Is anyone there? Who is this?” she demanded in her own inimitable yet ornery way.
“It’s Mario” he finally said. “I’m calling to let you know that Trudy just had a baby. A boy… Eleven pounds and beautiful!”
“Oh, did she?” Lily responded without an ounce of emotion. “Eunice had a baby too, just about a year ago, a girl!” she continued.
“I know,” Mario replied. “We’ve been over to see her quite a few times already. Susan is beautiful. Now you have two grandchildren… a girl AND a boy!”
“Yes, I suppose we do” was all Lily said before an awkward silence fell over the line. Then she simply muttered, “Well, thank you for your call” and before Mario could say another word, she hung up!
“Bitter old crone!” Mario thought out loud. He could not figure out why in the world the old woman hated him so, but the truth was, he really didn’t care what she thought of him. It did however hurt him to think how disappointed Trudy would be. He knew that she was hoping that her new baby would change everything. That the old woman would soften up and come around; but no such luck. She was still as hard as nails.
Papa came rushing through the main entrance of the hospital holding a beautiful bouquet of flowers. He asked to be directed to the maternity ward where he went to see his new grandson. As the nurse held the baby boy up to the window, Papa felt a tear escape his eye. He was so proud and overcome with joy. He wished that his dear wife Carmina had lived to share in the joy of this moment with him.
Mario was sitting at the foot of Trudy’s bed as Papa walked into the room.
He went directly over to Trudy, kissed her cheek, handed her the flowers and simply said, “Thank you.”
He was beaming with pride and both Trudy and Mario could clearly see that this was one of the happiest days of Papa’s life.
“What a beautiful baby” he said through his grin, “He’s so big. He already looks like a three month old! Trudy, eleven pounds? Momma mia! That’s so unusual for a baby to be born that big. Most babies are about seven pounds. You’re such a tiny woman, how did you make such a big baby?”
“Yes Papa, I know,” Trudy answered. “All the nurses are talking about the eleven pound baby.”
“I have had nine children of my own and not one, not even this one over here, was eleven pounds!” he laughed as he slapped his son on the back. “So, what did you decide to name him?”
“Daniel,” Trudy said, “Daniel John. Do you like that name Papa?”
“A beautiful name for my beautiful grandson!” he replied.
Just then the nurse came through the door with baby Daniel.
“I have someone here who wants to see his mamma,” said the nurse. “And his daddy and grandpa too” she added with a big grin.
Trudy held her son. She had never known a feeling so wonderful. Suddenly thirty-six hours of labor seemed a small price to pay for such a precious gift.
Seeing his daughter-in-law hold her new son caused Papa to become overwhelmed with emotion. This was truly one of the most beautiful sights he had ever seen and he had not been this happy since the day his own first son was born. He put his arm around Mario and said, “Look son. Here we are… three generations of first born Massetti sons!”
Then it dawned on him. “Trudy,” he asked, “Where’s your parents?”
“Oh, I don’t think they’ll be coming Papa” she answered. Trying to hide her pain she continued, “Maybe they’ll come by the apartment in a week or so to see the baby.”
Papa looked perplexed. He could not understand what could possibly keep Trudy’s mother and father away at a moment like this. He himself loved Trudy like one of his own children. Over the past five years he had watched her grow-up right before his eyes. From the school girl friend that his daughter brought home to the young lady his son started to date, to the women who became his son’s wife and now the mother of his grandchild.
She was always happy, smiling, thoughtful and loving. She did not deserve this kind of treatment from her parents. Papa could sense the pain that his question may have stirred-up. He had wished that he could take back the last two minutes but it was too late. He touched Trudy’s cheek with his fingertips and said, “I am so proud of you and the woman that you have become. You are a gift to my family.”
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Until next time,