April 7, 1970
Mom wrote to us about once a week. These days she was using carbon paper to type 3 copies simultaneously, sending one to Tom in Washington DC, one to Mary and Bervin in Chicago, and one to Nate and me. Although Mary and Bervin got together with the folks regularly, Mom didn’t want them to miss her letters.
She sometimes waxed eloquent and frequently taught spiritual principles she didn’t want any of us to forget. In this week’s correspondence, Mom had chosen to write about the blessing of family, particularly her 3 kids.
Here, there and everywhere around 1140 [their address] are bits of evidence of Mary, Margaret, and Thomas, each here to warm the cockles of our hearts (whatever they are!) and to bless us with precious memories. You are such wonderful children. The only explanation for each of you is God’s goodness, plus your great, great father. As I’ve said before, we couldn’t have all the children in the world, so we just had the best!
Mom had married late for brides of 1941, at the ripe old age of 28. Although she had always been the life of every party, she was the last of her friends to marry. Maybe young suitors wondered if they could handle her spirited personality.
Then along came Dad, 13 years older, stable and steady, and she was the one he wanted. Mom never got over her good fortune in his choosing her, and she let him know it every single day of their 50 years married – running to him with hugs, kisses, and wild squeals of delight every time he walked in the door.
Her dream was to have a house full of children, but after having Mary and I, her #3 was a miscarriage that became life-threatening when she hemorrhaged. She lost enough blood to make survival doubtful.
But Mom had a determination to live, and after massive set-backs that landed her at Mayo Clinic for months, in the end she came through just fine. Her desire for a dozen children, however, was not to be. “No more babies,” her doctor said. “You could die.”
There was no such thing as birth control in the 1940’s, but Dad wisely determined they would comply with the doctor’s orders. He began keeping a calendar of her cycle himself, not trusting Mom — with her passion for children and penchant for taking chances.
Dad’s system worked well for 4 years, but then, quite unexpectedly, news came of a 3rd pregnancy. This put Mom in heaven and Dad into the depths of worry. Though Mom never admitted to tricking him, we were all sure she did. If so, she did it ingeniously, giving birth to Tom on Dad’s 50th birthday.
Dad was relieved that Mom had made it through her pregnancy without incident, and of course he adored his little boy. And Mom? She graciously accepted that this bonus baby had completed her family. Maybe that’s why she frequently made reference to having “not all the children in the world, just the best.”
As for Mary, Tom and I, any way we looked at it, one thing was certain: we’d grown up immersed in love – and also the responsibility to pass it on.
“Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another.” (Romans 13:8)