It was exactly one week after Bobs death, that Dana layed in the hospital on the operating table as they prepared her for the birth of her son. They were all strangers to her, as she was at a University Hospital, and rarely saw the same doctor twice. The anesthesiologist asked her what she and her husband wanted a boy or a girl. My husband is dead she quietly answered but it’s going to be a boy. She knew that since the beginning of her pregnancy. It was the same feeling she had had with Calli. Just to be sure, the doctor put a piece of tape on her pillow and wrote the word Boy on it. This delivery would be different. Dana would get a spinal and be awake when Bob Jr. was born. She felt some pressure, some pulling and tugging.
Then she heard the words ” it’s a boy! “. All she could do was cry as strained to see her son through her tear filled eyes. It was only a second and he was gone. They had wisked him away. Dana fell asleep. When she woke a little while later in the recovery room, she could not move her legs. She was scared for a few moments, till the nurse explained that it was just because the anesthetic had not worn off. Dana rubbed her legs trying to make it wear off faster, She knew she would not see her son until, until she was moved to her room and she would not be moved till the anesthetic wore off.
The room she was taken to was much different from the room she had when Calli was born. This time she was on a ward with six beds in it, and they were all filled with new mothers. The first thing Dana wanted was to see and hold her new son. After a while two doctors came to her bedside. They explained to her that the baby was having some problems and had been taken to intensive care. She started crying, as they went on to say that the tranquilzers they had given her since Bobs death was still in his bloodstream and he was having a hard time waking up. He was four floors above her and it would be two days until she would be well enough to get in a wheelchair to go up to see him.
Those next two days went by to slowly. As Dana worried about her son up above her on the 7th floor. She kept to herself on the ward. It hurt watching all the other mothers having their babies brought to them, while all she had was a blurred image of her own baby. The other mothers had husbands to visit them and share their joy. None of them could understand what she was going through. Dana was thankful she had plenty to keep her busy. She took turns writing, first a Birth annoucement intoducing her new son Bob Jr 6lbs 2 oz, 18 1/2 inches long. She would then switch to a Thank You for Your Sympathy card for the people who had come to Bob Srs funeral and sent cards. Her mom came to visit and brought Dana the mail. More sympathy cards and one bill. As she looked at the bill, she could not believe what she was reading. $435.00. $250.00 transport to the morgue. $185.00 waiting time. Waiting time? The car had hit a temporary steel guard rail. It gone into the front drivers side of the old 57 ford, through her husbands arm and chest and out the back right fender. Now they were charging her for the time they had to wait for her husbands dead body to be cut out of the tangled wreck.Once again all she could do was cry.
Dana was so exited as she took the ride in her wheelchair and onto the elevator two floors up to see her son. Once in the room, she stood up to take the short walk to the corner incubator. She had to walk bent over, as she was still very sore fom her C’section. There lay Bob jr. He was so tiny, more than 2lbs less then Callie had been. He had lost weight since being born and was only 5lb 6oz. He had Ivs, but was breathing on his own. Dana sat in the rocking chair next to the incubator and was so excited, when the nurse asked if she wanted to hold him. She wrapped him in a blanket and placed the tiny bundle in Danas arms. He was so beautiful, he had sandy blonde hair and looked just like like his father. There was a little strawberry birthmark on the inside of his left arm up by his elbow. Dana cried and whispered to her son, how much she loved him and how sorry she was his daddy wasn’t there to see him. Then all of the sudden she felt anger. She could hear herself asking Bob Sr. How could he do that? How could he die and leave her alone with their beautiful son and Calli? How would she manage everything by herself. She was 2 months shy of her 18th birthday and she was a widow with 2 children.
Dana didn’t have many visitors during her 7 day stay at the hospital. Her mom and dad came a couple times and her in laws came once, but that visit was anything but pleasant. Ed had brought polaroid pictures of the car that Bob had been killed in. It still had the beam going through it and a part of Bobs shirt hung from the part that had gone through him and the front seat. Ida went on and on about how they wanted to help. All this was going to be to much for Dana and Ida suggested that she should allow them to take Bob Jr to raise. Dana was numb from it all. How could they think she would even consider such a thing. She was so grateful when they finally left.
When Dana was discharged from the hospital, she had to leave her baby boy behind. He was still not well enough to go home. She went to stay with her grandma Cora who also lived in Chicago. She would be able to take the bus to be with her son everyday. 4 days later he was ready to go home. Danas mom Dory picked them up for the 35 mile ride home. Dana sat in the back seat holding her son and tracing his face with her finger. I love your eyes, I love your nose, I love your mouth, I love your whole face, she would say. Before going home though, there was one stop Dana needed to make. She got out of the car holding Bob Jr and walked across the grass towards the weeping willow tree. She was happy to see the headstone had already been placed. A star of light carved in the corner Robert Franklin Chamberlain Sr. Loving Husband and Father Feb 3,1953 – July 26,1971. She layed her baby on his daddys grave. This is your son she said as she wept. Isn’t he beautiful. She wasn’t there long before she realized she was just talking to the ground. Bob Sr wasn’t there, it was just a place to hold his empty body. It would be many years before she would go back to that cemetary.
Dana was back at her grandparents house. She was so excited to see Calli. It had not even been 2 weeks but she had grown so much. Calli was so excited to meet her new baby brother. She followed Dana down the hall and to the bedroom they shared. There Dana layed the sleeping baby in the bassinet that had been added to the room. Danas grandma Ceil told her she wanted her to see something in the basement and Dana followed. As she reached the bottom of the stairs she was greeted by a chorus of people yelling SURPRISE. It was a baby shower and Dana was definitely surprised. She never had a party thrown for her before, and didn’t know how to act or what to say. She sat in a chair and opened the presents as they were handed to her. Blankets, T-shirts, little blue outfits. She thank each person for their gifts and she was grateful, but she still felt uncomfortable. She thought to herself that the only reason they were there was out of pity. There had been no shower when Calli was born and no one offered to have a shower for her before her husband died.
Dana had only been home a few days before she had to make a trip back to Chicago. She was going to the county courthouse where they were holding an inquest into Bob Sr.’s death. She didn’t understand why it was needed, but they said in the letter it was a natural process to determine if it was an accident or suicide.. Dana knew it couldn’t be the latter. She took the only seat left at the large oval table which was filled with people already in the other chairs. She listened as each person took turns introducing themselves and why they were there. The coroner who had done the autopsy and said Bob had been drinking. the police officer who had been the first to respond to the accident. The witness who said he had ran to Bobs car to help but as soon as he saw him, he knew there was nothing he could do. There was even a man who said Bob had hit his car while trying to pass before he hit the guard rail. As they all told their stories Dana wept. Now she would forever have vivid pictures in her head of everything that happened. It was more than she wanted to know. She hated that she was there and was grateful when they decided it was an accident and allowed her to leave.
Dana started working as a waitress for her grandfathers restaurant. It was just down the the road a little ways and she could walk to it. On her 18th birthday she went to get her drivers license. She actually failed the paralell parking but the examiner felt sorry for her and passed her anyway. He told her to have her brother Bud, who had just passed the test himself, to teach her how. Danas grandpa Frank had one of the men that worked at his car dealership, to take her to a car auction to find her a car. She came home with a beautiful, yellow 1966 charger.
Ida was getting on Danas nerves. She was contantly telling Dana she could never afford to raise both her children and how she thought she should raise Bob Jr. Dana found 2 more jobs to prove her mother in law wrong. She did allow Ida to watch the kids while she worked. Monday through Friday during the day she did telephone soliciting for a company that sold magazines. Seven evenings a week she would work at the restaurant and on weekend days she worked cleaning trailers in a few mobile home parks. The kids stayed at Ida’s during the week. It was winter and Dana did not want to carry out in the cold at night, since she worked at the restaurant till midnight and had to be at her day job a 8am. Many times she slept in her car outside Ida’s house so she could see the kids before she went to work in the mornings. Ida never offered to let her sleep inside and before long said that Dana wasn’t spending enough time with the kids and now was going to use that as excuse to keep them. Dana again struggled for an answer. All she wanted was to keep her children.
She sold her car and used the money as rent and security for a small 2 bedroom trailer in one of the mobile home parks she worked in. She had to quit her other two jobs since she no longer had tranportation, and no way was she going to let Ida take care of the children. It was not easy every day was a struggle. She got 214.00 a month survivors benifits from Social Security. Both Calli and Bob Jr were allergic to milk and their special meat base formula was 3.45 a can and she needed two cans a day, but Dana was happy to have her own place and enjoyed being mom to her beautiful kids. Ida was at the door several days a week, telling Dana how she would never make and constantly holding the threat of taking Bob Jr away. Before long Dana was beside herself with stress and began to wonder if Ida was right. Could she make it? Would she ever be able to give her kids all she wanted them to have? Would they all ever be a happy family? All Dana could do now was pray for a miracle.