Grams was amazing. She was a tough old broad, but classy — and did I mention tough? My grandmother was a beautiful woman, lovely skin, shining silver-white hair; she was always “put together.” As she aged, it was hard to watch as her skin thinned to rice paper. She practically bruised if you shook her hand. Her skin tore on the back of her hand on a car door handle, and she had to get stitches. When it came time to get them out she was stoic. First, they had to get the bandage off. I grimaced, knowing it was going to do damage, and the nurse pulled gently at the edges. “Rip it off” my grandmother bellered. She set her jaw and the nurse ripped it off her hand. I grimaced in referred pain, but my grandmother didn’t make a peep.
One day when I had come down to visit my Grandmother in California, she told me about the baby. There was a child conceived before my mother and after my uncle. Grandma carried my aunt or uncle (she never told me which) to full term, and then, while she was in labor, air raid sirens starting going off. It was 1942. Nurses all ran around the hospital, pulling shades down over all the windows while my grandmother was in labor. My grandmother kept trying to tell them the baby was coming, and something was wrong. No one came. Her baby died from a breach, umbilical cord around it’s little neck, right there in the hospital with doctors and nurses everywhere.
Husbands didn’t go in to the delivery room those days. My grandfather was probably downstairs in the waiting room. She had never said a word about it to us about how she lost that baby until a few years before she passed. But that was Grams. There was a lot we didn’t talk about in our family.