Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Doing Good

I enjoy reading the writings of Henry D. Thoreau, the New England writer who lived alone in a cabin in the woods along Walden Pond. He built the cabin himself for only several dollars choosing to use discarded material he got from the town dump or as gifts from the town’s folk.

When I was gainfully employed, the wife of one of my employees was pregnant with multiple births. They were both of an age when childbearing should probably not be considered and in addition he had a child from a previous marriage. But times being what they were and still are, she took fertility pills to increase the odds of pregnancy. Trouble soon appeared. Under doctors’ orders, she was confined to her bed for several months and under constant medication, to prevent a miscarriage. Still the babies were born too early. All had some degree of problems. Because of modern medicine, they survived but were kept at the hospital for several months before being sent home. The mother was fine.

The company had insurance of course and so they had no financial risks. I never knew the total amount of the bills, but they must have been nearing a half million.
After the babies were home and they had accepted the fact that one of them would have lifelong problems, I talked to the father about his family. He was happy that things were going as well as they were. He was somewhat annoyed that the county did not have a visiting nurse to come and help out families with multiple births. The children were quite a handful.

My mother had eleven of us spaced about one and a half years apart. She had no washing machine, no throw away diapers, no baby food and no family doctor to rely on. She was the sole care taker: washing, cleaning, feeding, dressing and otherwise caring for us. When there were five or so, the county provided a visiting nurse to come and offer advice and help with the children medically. Probably the doctor who delivered us talked to the county nurse and suggested it. Up to that time, all the children were of course born at home.

My mother was a strong willed person. She did not need help and was not happy to have the nurse come. However the nurse, wanting to help or just under county rules, continued to come offering advice and maybe some criticism on how to care for children, intruding, I am sure my mother thought, in how she was raising us children.
Finally, one fine day my mother waited by the front door and when the nurse appeared, she was summarily chased by an angry mother, broom in hand, shouting Polish expressions, until she was safely in her car. She drove away, never to reappear at my mothers’ house.

Henry liked to say that if he knew that someone was coming to his house with the intent of doing him good, he would run.

My mother chose to stay and fight. Henry, I am sure, would have been proud.

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