Thursday, June 28, 2012
The New Arrivals
The New Arrivals
“I just don't understand it, Nettie. Those babies were suppose to be here by now. What is wrong with those two females? Do they think I have all the time in the world to wait around for my grandchildren to arrive?”
“Oscar, stop your fussing. Just think how Emma and Lily feel. They are the ones having to walk around with those big tummies. Do you think they wouldn't like to have their little ones in their arms right now?”
Meanwhile in the Richard Crowley house, Lily is on the new telephone complaining to Emma that she feels like a whale.
“If this baby doesn't come soon, Richard will have to build an addition on the parlor just to fit me in there.”
“I'm sure it isn't that bad Lily, but I know what you mean. I'm a bit tired of being in this condition too. Hillary Duesenberry is two weeks old already and Kate wasn't due until after we were. Have you heard there are three new doctors on staff at the hospital? I'm so happy they are able to recruit doctors. It's not easy uprooting a family to bring to our little town.”
“Can you believe we have been here two years now? I feel as though I've been in Camden Corners all my life. I'm so glad that ad for the antique shop kept calling our name. Except for waiting for this little peanut to be born, I couldn't be happier and I know you feel the same way too.”
Emma and Lily had been friends since they were in kindergarten together in Greensboro. After the death of her grandfather, Emma was forced to leave her home thanks to the old curmudgeon, Harvey Wilson. The final outcome of Harvey's shenanigans turned in Emma's favor but she and Lily already owned and operated the Looking Back Antique Shop. Mr. Wilson was a forgotten chapter in the lives of the Crowley wives.
Lily settled into bed for an anticipated sleepless night. When she did find a comfortable position, the baby would start to kick and disturb her. This night it was different. She felt the first twinge just after midnight. She didn't want to awaken Richard who was snoring away next to her. Within the hour she was in serious pain and could no longer ignore it. Richard insisted they leave for the hospital the moment Lily woke him up. He drove them in the automobile he purchased the week before.
At the hospital he kissed his wife goodbye as she was wheeled into the delivery area and began pacing. He thought about calling his father and brother but decided to let them sleep until the break of dawn. He knew babies took their time arriving.
One hour later Dr. Springer opened the door to the waiting area. “Congratulations Richard, you have a son. The nurse will take you to the nursery to see him. Lily did very well. She is resting now but you may sit with her until she wakes up.”
Richard peered through the window of the nursery and saw the squirmy little baby that was his son. He was overcome with joy. Lily was sleeping quietly but woke up when she heard her husband enter the room.
“Richard, isn't he the most beautiful baby in the world? Our little Matthew Richard Crowley. I'm so happy we have a son.”
“Was it too terrible for you Lily? I wish I could have been in here with you so you didn't have to suffer alone.”
“Any pain I had was well worth it. I can't wait to get our little boy home. I hope they let me leave soon. Did you call Oscar and Nettie? I guess it's too early. I hope Emma doesn't have to wait too much longer before her baby is born.”
“I think I'll call them right now. I'm sure Pop will be passing out cigars before breakfast.”
Nettie still wasn't accustomed to the sound of a telephone ringing. She had to admit it was nice to be able to pick up the receiver and talk to anyone she wanted to but it certainly did make a racket.
“Hello Nana,” said Richard on the other end. When Faith began to talk, she called Nettie Nana. It suited her and the name stuck. “You have a grandson.”
“Oscar come quick. You have a grandson,” she called to her husband. “How is Lily, is she doing alright? I am so worried about those two girls. Their pregnancies have gone on for so long.”
“Lily is doing very well. She is already talking about coming home. Matthew Richard is adorable.”
Oscar appeared with a broad grin. Nettie handed him the phone.
“Congratulations son. I couldn't be happier. When can we see the newest Crowley?”
“Visiting hours begin at 10:00 but I may be able to smuggle you in sooner. I'm going to call Robert now. I'll talk to you later Pops.”
Oscar picked up Nettie and swung her around. “Be careful Oscar, you will throw your back out and end up in the hospital yourself,” she laughed as he gave her one of his big bear hugs.
“So you beat me to it Lily,” said Emma as she sat down on the chair in Lily's room. “Matthew is such a handsome little boy. I'm so glad the waiting is over for you.”
“Emma, are you feeling alright? You are as pale as a ghost.”
“I'm just a little tired. It's probably the excitement of having a new little nephew in the family.”
“Robert, get the nurse. There is something wrong with Emma.”
Robert walked over to his wife and could see Lily was right.
“You stay with her, I'll get the nurse,” said Richard.
The nurse walked in, took one look at Emma and ran for Doctor Springer who was getting ready to leave for the day.
“Robert. I'm admitting Emma. I'll examine her and let you know my findings.”
The nurse came in the room with a wheelchair and gently lifted Emma into it and rushed her out the door.
“What is wrong with her? She was fine when we came in here.”
“Maybe she is just squeamish about being in the hospital,” said Lily although she didn't believe her own words. She had never seen her friend look so sick.
Robert went to the nurses station. Oscar and Nettie were in the waiting room. They had arrived just a few minutes after Robert and Emma. Nettie sensed something was wrong.
“Is Lily alright? The baby?” she said
Robert turned to her. “It's Emma, the doctor has taken her to an examining room. She didn't look good Nettie.”
Just then Dr. Springer appeared. “Robert, Emma is hemorrhaging. We must deliver her immediately. I hope it doesn't come to this but we may have to perform surgery. The nurse is preparing the paperwork for you to sign.”
Robert had never been so frightened. “She was perfectly fine when we left the house. I don't understand what is happening.”
Dr. Murphy came in through the front doors and rushed to where Emma was. Robert looked at his family and realized they were as terrified as he was. Nettie came over and held his hand. Lily was in her room and couldn't stand the waiting anymore. She slipped out of bed, put on her robe and slippers and joined her family in the waiting room.
“Lily, you should be in bed,” said Oscar
“I need to know what's going on with my friend. I'm just fine sitting here.”
Oscar realized he hadn't seen his grandson yet but couldn't move until they found out Emma was going to be alright.
It wasn't long until Dr. Springer walked into the waiting room. “Robert, you have a baby girl. She is being examined now but she seems to be very healthy. I'm afraid Emma is not doing as well. We didn't have to perform surgery which is a good thing. She is in an extremely weakened condition. She has lost so much blood. She is receiving new blood through a blood transfusion. We are doing everything we can for her. You can thank your new nephew that she and the baby survived at all. If she hadn't been in the hospital when this happened, she would not be alive now. You may see your daughter in just a few minutes. The nurse will call you. We must keep Emma isolated for the next few hours. Dr. Murphy is with her now and I have every confidence in him.”
What had started out as a day of joy for the Crowley family had turned into a nightmare. Robert couldn't move. He was in a state of shock. Emma could die. He could lose her. He could hear Nettie and Lily crying softly. He had a daughter. The words were echoing in his ear but he didn't feel anything except terror.
Hours passed and Emma was still critical. Nettie telephoned a few friends and word quickly spread through the town. Vicar Will opened the church for those who wanted to gather in prayer. The antique shop remained closed. Several of the shops closed early. Friends and neighbors met on the hospital grounds to pray for Emma's recovery.
Friends from Greensboro were told of Emma's condition. Fern Collins heard it from her friend Eva. Fern was filling in for Mrs. Hildebrand, Harvey's regular housekeeper, while she was recovering from gall bladder surgery. Harvey was eating his dinner alone as he did every evening.
“Mr. Wilson did you hear the sad news about Emma Patterson? She is Emma Crowley now. Seems she brought a wee babe into the world today but is not doing well. They don't know if she will live through the night. I remember her Grandpa Amos. Such a kind man. I can tell you he helped out my family a time or two.”
Mr. Wilson gave no indication that he had even heard Fern. She knew he was a nasty old man but she needed the money he paid her and kept her opinion of him to herself. She left the room shaking her head.
When the door closed, Harvey Wilson bowed his head and whispered, “Lord, I don't know if you can hear me. I haven't spoken to you since I was a boy but I'm going to take a chance that you are listening. There is a young woman who lives in Camden Corners. She is very sick. I'm sure you know her. She is one of your better servants. Her name is Emma. Through the years I haven't treated her kindly but she is a feisty little thing and always outsmarted me no matter what I did. I never let her know that I admired her but I did. She is a new mother now and her baby needs her. Please let her live. She is loved by so many people.”
A tear fell down Harvey's cheek as he took a sip of his tea. At that moment, Emma was opening her eyes. She was weak and pale but very much alive.
“Robert,” she whispered as she put her hand on her tummy. “is our baby alright?”
Robert had been dozing as he sat by her bed holding her hand. “Emma, you're awake. I've never been so happy to see your eyes open. Our daughter is healthy and anxious to meet her mother. You gave us all such a fright. Let me call the nurse to make sure you are doing as well as you seem.”
“We have a daughter. Catherine Crowley,” said Emma.
“I think I'd like to change her name to Catherine Emma Crowley,.” said Robert. “I want her to know how precious her mama is to everyone.” Robert opened the curtains and Emma could see dozens of candles glowing in the dark.
“Those candles are for you. The whole town is waiting for you to be well again. Do you remember anything about what happened to you?”
“Not much. I remember feeling a bit woozy and being in a wheelchair. That's about it. I remember Lily had a little boy. Now we have a little girl. Are Oscar and Nettie thrilled?”
“They will be more thrilled when they find out you are alright. Do you feel like company after you see Catherine Emma?”
Emma could hear the crowd outside yell with excitement. She couldn't believe that was all for her. She was indeed a lucky woman to have so many friends.
Fern Collins walked into the dining room to clear Mr. Wilson's dinner dishes. “I don't know if you heard me tell you about dear Emma Crowley but my friend Eva called me with the good news. Emma is going to be just fine.”
“Thank you for letting me know Miss Collins. Why don't you take the rest of the evening off. The dishes can wait. I think I might take a little ride down to the pub. I feel in the mood to celebrate.”
“Thank you Mr. Wilson.” Fern was out the door before the old codger could change his mind. She had the idea he wouldn't though. Something was different about her boss. Something that resembled kindness.
Three weeks had passed. Emma was feeling back to her old self. She and Lily were enjoying being mothers.
The antique shop was well taken care of with the help of Samantha Springer, Nettie, Ethel and Jonas Fulbright. Emma and Lily were anxious to check in and brought their new babies with them to the shop one morning.
Shortly after the ladies arrived, the door opened and there stood Harvey Wilson. Lily spoke up, “Mr. Wilson, we thought we'd seen the last of you. What business could you possibly have with us?”
“I don't wish to disturb you ladies. I was told you have offspring now and wanted to give them each a small gift. Miss Emma, I'm glad you are looking so well. I understand you gave us all quite a fright.”
Lily put her hands on her hips and was about to tell Mr. Wilson exactly what she thought of his gifts and him but Emma stepped forward. “Mr. Wilson, I do believe you are being sincere. If you have a plan to harm us in any way I warn you, I will not be pleased.”
“I understand your feeling Miss Emma and I do not blame you. If you will allow me to explain myself. I never had much time or inclination to read. However, since I no longer own the newspaper or any of my other ventures I found I had time on my hands. I happened upon a novella by Charles Dickens titled A Christmas Carol. I don't know if you are familiar with the story but I saw myself as the fellow named Ebeneezer Scrooge. Suffice it to say he was a rather unpleasant fellow who was faced with an unhappy ending because of his greed and selfishness. My housekeeper told me of your condition when your babe was born. I recalled the unnecessary anguish I had put you and Miss Lily through and found it difficult to face myself in the mirror. I owe you both so much more than a simple baby gift but I am hoping it will be a start in begging your forgiveness.”
Lily calmed down when she saw Mr. Wilson's eyes were glistening. Emma held out her hand and said, “Please Mr. Wilson, come in and see the babies. They are both sleeping now.”
His eyes lit up as he gazed down at little Catherine and Matthew.
Nettie brought in a plate of sliced cranberry bread and cups of fresh brewed coffee. They all sat around the largest table in the shop. Nettie noticed Mr. Wilson's face had softened since the last time she saw him. He looked 15 years younger. As they chatted, she could almost hear the words of Tiny Tim saying “God Bless us everyone.”