My story starts out in 1988 when I became pregnant with my first child. My fiancé and I had both been in the military together stationed on the East Coast. He was finishing the end of his 4 year enlistment term and I was only in my 1st year of active duty. We met on base and dated for about 6 months until I found out I was pregnant. We were ecstatic even though the pregnancy was not planned. He asked me to marry him and I agreed. There was one small little problem though. He was being discharged and I wasn’t. So I opted for a medical discharge. In the military, you can get out of your contract if you are pregnant.
He was born and raised in Texas and wanted to go back home to where his family still lived. I was born and raised in New Hampshire and that is where my family was. But he was my husband and I thought it was my job to follow him. So we got married in the base chapel. Three days later, we were on a plane headed to Texas. Now mind you, I am Caucasian and his family is Hispanic so I was a bit scared. I had no idea what to expect or what traditions or anything they had.
We arrived at the airport and his family met us at the gate. His family is a very close knit family. He has an older sister who was in nursing school at the time. He had a younger brother who died of Reye Syndrome about 10 years back. His mom and dad seemed like decent people. His mom is a kindergarten teacher and his father is a high school principal. He definitely acted like a principal. My in laws had just built a new home so they sold us the home they just moved out of. I was a nice, brick 3 bedroom house. We lived next door to my husband’s grandparents. I suppose at this point I should put names to faces. Jose Jr is my husband, Jose Sr and Frances are my in-laws, Esmeralda is my sister in law, Albert was the brother was passed away and Mildred and Hilario were my husband’s grandparents. So now that we know everyone, let’s continue on with the story.
Mildred spoiled me rotten throughout my pregnancy. Actually, since I was carrying the first grandchild in the family, I was pretty much pampered by everyone. But Mildred took extra care of me. Since we lived right next door to each other, she has easy access to pamper me. She was cooking my meals, clean the house and do my laundry. She would not let me do a single thing. My husband went to college during the day for his teaching degree and he worked at night as a security guard at our local Coca-Cola plant so he was gone a lot.
The day I went into labor was uneventful. I went to see my doctor around 9 am with what I thought were contractions. It was my first time being pregnant so I had no idea what to expect. My doctor told me I was only 2 centimeters and sent me home. I continued all day with the contractions. By 9 pm at night, I could not take the pain any longer so I went to the emergency room. My water had no broken but man was I a hurting’. The doctor did an exam and I still was only about 7 centimeters. I finally delivered Mark at 1:00 am on April the 8th, 1989.
I stayed in the hospital with him for 2 days and both Mark and I were fine so we went home. I was still exhausted from my first experience with childbirth but of course everyone wanted to see him since he was the first grandbaby. My in-laws were great as they helped me with meals and stuff. My mother in law cooked a bunch of meals and froze them so all I would have to do is take them out and heat them up. Of course, my Mildred was right there by my side every day. This was my first child so I was a bit nervous. She taught me how to change his diaper, feed and burp him and how to soothe him when he was colicky.
One morning, around 6:00 am, Hilario came over and stated that Mildred was feeling well. She was having pain in her chest. My husband and I drive her to the hospital which was only about 5 miles away. The doctor stated she had a heart attack and Mildred was placed in the Intensive Care Unit. We could only see her during certain times and only for a few minutes. She was very weak and had tough time breathing on her own. During her stay in ICU, she kept asking her doctors every day if she could see Mark. Mark was only 6 months old at the time. The doctors kept telling her that she was too weak and they didn’t want her to exert herself. After 3 days in the ICU, she moved to a private room. She was so glad she could finally have her family with her more often. But she still was not allowed to see Mark. She cried every day because she was not allowed to see him. She knew she was dying and told the doctors that her only wish was to see Mark one last time. My husband and I finally convinced her doctor to let her see Mark for 5 minutes. We brought him in that afternoon. I had never seen her so happy. She had tears of joy as she held him and kissed him at least a hundred times.
The staff nurse came in after about 10 minutes and said that Mildred needed to rest and we had to leave. We walked out of the room and got about half way down the hall when the code blue alarm sounded. Over the loudspeaker we heard “Code Blue Room 204.” We were in shock. Room 204 was Mildred’s room. That couldn’t be right. We had just left her room. We raced back to her room but the nurses would not let us in. A few minutes later, the doctor came out and told us that Mildred has passed away. I was in awe. I explained to the doctor that we had just left the room with Mark. That was what she was waiting for. She wanted to see Mark one last time before she died.
I was never really a religious person. I grew up Catholic and went to Catholic schools and all. But when I was an adult, I never really practiced my religion. I mean I believe in God and all but that day made me believe that there was really a God and there were angels up in heaven and Mildred was now among them. Faith is a powerful thing!
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.