My mother was my father's second wife, and therein lies a sad, sad story.
Until recently, I had never done the math to realize what an awkward situation this is to explain on a public blog. At some point in the early spring of 1927, my twenty-year-old father impregnated a fourteen-year-old girl! It took me awhile to let that sink in, and it still shocks me. Of course, that was pretty common at the time, but it's troubling, isn't it? The way my dad related it was that someone in the girl's family asked him if he was responsible, and he said he told them, "I could be."
|This is the only known picture of Vernie, my dad's first wife. `|
So of course, they got married. The woman who later became my half-sister was born in late December of 1927. A year and three months later, Vernie gave birth to a boy; she died in the process, at the age of 17.
Last Saturday we visited her grave. For years there was no gravestone, but my parents got one, saying my sister Maxine's mother should have a marker.
As I thought about this whole story, I realized that I wouldn't have had a sixteen-year-old step-sister when I was born if that teenaged girl hadn't died. Everyone on all sides of my family has loved my sister. She's like that wife described in Proverbs 31. My Uncle Leo told a story about my parents visiting Grandma's house and all the adults went together to do something; they came back to find dinner ready. "And Maxine was just a little girl," he said.
She never rebelled against anyone, the way yours truly did. I was the kid who threw a fit if I was asked to wash dishes. All her life she has been the most gracious, kind, classy woman I've ever known. Her mother would have been proud of her.
Just yesterday I realized the gift Vernie gave me through her death was more than just my sister: That poor little teenager had to die in order for me to eventually be born! Oh yes, my father and Vernie would have had more children; my mother would have married someone else and had children. But none of those children would have been me.
If you are wondering what happened to the little boy she died giving birth to, that's another story. My dad had an aunt and uncle who took the infant in (they called him Jack), because a single, working man couldn't take care of a baby. Three or four years later when Daddy married my mother, the aunt refused to give up the boy. When he was 12, he became difficult for the couple to handle, and they finally turned him over to my parents. He made a lot of bad decisions throughout his life, but I recall having good times with him and his family on Christmases and other holidays when I was a child.
My sister and brother with their spouses and babies; my sister only had the one child, and he is as outstandingly perfect as my sister and her sweet husband
My mother marked on all the old pictures like these. Strange way to do it, but at least I know who is in the old pictures. LOL