1 comment

Mystery

Sam Newsome

1161 words

Family Matters

            This warm spring day was made for being outdoors.  The afternoon rays of light played on the swing sets as an unseasonably warm breeze rustled the early foliage overhead.  Doc sat on one of the well-used park benches as he watched an energetic young girl chase butterflies across the playground.   

The idyllic scene is only momentarily interrupted when a young mother approaches pushing a stroller.  Doc had occasionally seen the mother pushing the pram, but had never spoken.  She took a seat on the bench and continued to gently rock the stroller as its cargo, an infant of about six months, continued to sleep.  Several minutes passed and the mother commented to Doc.  “Your grand daughter is lovely.”

Doc responded to be polite, even though he had a twinge of resentment at the interruption of the moment.  “Actually, that’s my daughter.”

The lady flushed and answered, “I’m sorry for my mistake. Its just that you seem, well, you seem a bit mature to have a young child.”

Doc sensed her embarrassment and decided to be conversational.  “Yes, I suppose my gray hair and a few wrinkles make me appear a bit old, and I have been 

around a while, but that’s my daughter, all the same.  After a moment of awkward silence, Doc had the unexplained impulse to explain.

“Sarah and I were never blessed with children.  We always expected to have a family.  We both worked hard to be able to support a house full of children.  As our friends were busy with little league and ballet classes, we played the roles of good neighbors and relatives and waited.  Finally, it seemed that time had passed us by.  Sarah and I have led full lives and were both resigned to being an aunt and uncle rather than parents, but over time there was a lingering regret and too many thoughts of what might have been.

“Sarah and I didn’t grow apart, but perhaps we allowed our lives to grow stale and even a little bitter.  As many childless parents do, we showered attention on our pets.  We were both especially fond of our cat.  One morning I was returning from morning rounds at the hospital.  For some reason that day I was dwelling on the direction our lives had taken.  As I passed our drive on my way to the office I saw our tabby cat at the end of the drive.  I looked closer as I passed and also saw a white cat smeared with blood that had become road kill. “I didn’t want the poor cat’s body to stay on the edge of the road and I didn’t want our tabby cat to be around it or to also get run over, so I stopped to dispose of the body and shoo our pet back to the house before I went to the office.  

“But I know I’m boring you on such a splendid day, and I seem to be prattling on.”

The young lady was now paying close attention and realized a story was coming, “No, Please continue, Ralphie’s sleeping and I’m enjoying the day as well.”

Doc continued his musing, “I parked the car in the drive and got out to retrieve the body and received the shock of my life.  The bloody white body was not a cat at all.  It was a newborn human infant.  She was as pale as snow, smeared with blood, and abraded as though she had been thrown from a car.   The umbilical cord was still attached.

“I was trembling as I picked up the lifeless body.  She was totally limp, cold as ice, without a pulse.  The rest of that morning is a blur.  I carried the body wrapped inside my coat as raced my car to the office.  My nurse, Angie, was as shocked as I to see the tiny body.  As she called 911, I applied oxygen over the small mouth and nose as well as possible, hopelessly felt for a pulse and began cardiac compressions while Angie puffed small breaths of the oxygen into the newborn.  “We attached our oversized electrodes to the tiny limbs in a vain effort to find a heartbeat.  Nothing.  Then an occasional blip occurred.  Angie and I just looked at each other.  We knew it was just a sign of a dying heart, but all the same it spurred us into activity.

We warmed the infant and I realized that the dehydrated infant desperately needed IV fluids.  I pulled the smallest plastic tube I had from its metal stylus and cut a small segment from the end of the frayed umbilical cord to “freshen” the vessel’s end.  Then, by some miracle I was able to thread the umbilical artery and start some fluid for the dead or dying infant. 

“I could hear the whine of a siren in the distance and knew that help would be there in a few minutes, but seconds counted.  IV fluids were started for badly needed hydration as we counted the compressions and breaths and watched the EKG monitor.  We didn’t keep drugs on the premises, so we had done our best.  As the seconds dragged past we saw a few more beats.  They were erratic at first but gradually occurred with some regularity.  The monitor climbed from twenty to forty and finally seemed to settle at sixty as the EMTs burst through the door.  As they 

assumed the duties of cardiac compressions and breathing, Angie thought she noticed an eyelid flicker.  The EMT announced by feeling the child’s groin, that he now felt a pulse!

“The hospital was called, and in another minute the EMTs were out the and on their way with the sirens wailing.

“Over the next few days we all followed the course of events.  The mother could not be found and no one had a clue as to the origins of the infant discarded as easily as an empty beer bottle.  

“In the Intensive Care Nursery, the neonate was expected to have severe post resuscitation problems, but surprised the pediatricians.  Eventually the time arrived for hospital discharge.  Adoptions were considered, but with the uncertain past history, and questions regarding the mother’s drug or alcohol use, few applications were received.  Sarah and I watched and prayed that in spite of being told that our age made adoption impossible, God may yet have a plan for us.”

Doc stood to stretch and mobilize his arthritic joints that had rested a bit too long.  After a moment he looked over at the playful child.  “Tabatha, come over here, it’s time to go.”  The youngster bounced over to Doc and grabbed his hand.  “I’d like you to meet my new friend.”  Doc turned to the young mother and her infant.  “This is Tabby!”

Doc held Tabby close, almost squeezing the child and in a raspy and hoarse voice that was choked with emotion he said, “Tabby, meet your mother.”

July 24, 2020 15:50

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1 comment

Elle Clark
08:25 Aug 01, 2020

This was an interesting read! I’m not sure how the Doc knew that the woman was Tabby’s mother though? That seemed like somewhat of a leap, though I liked the twist. I also thought the story of how he came to adopt the girl was really lovely.

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