Chapter 20 - Starting Over
January 5, 1955
I hope this letter finds you and Margaret in better spirits and better health then the last time I saw you.
The children were so happy to see me. I don't remember the last time I've been hugged so much. I know this is where I'm supposed to be.
I don't want to become a nuisance but I wanted to remind you about our little chat. There are so many children in need here. They have so little and what little many of them had in the first place has been taken from them.
The government is working to get Amerasian children out of the country to keep their country's bloodlines pure. These children are very easy to adopt right now. Remember how irate you were when we tried to get that little baby who was the child of an American GI out of Korea? Perhaps God is giving you the chance to right at least one wrong.
I urge you and Margaret to think about it, Hawkeye.
Happy New Year,
Father Francis Mulcahy
Cries of "Welcome back!" rang out as Margaret made her way to the nurse's station in the maternity ward of Portland General. She was met with balloons and a banner hung on the wall behind the desk.
Doris hugged her and said, "We have missed you! Here have some cake! You look like you could use it...look at you! You're skin and bone."
"Thank you, all!" said Margaret smiling broadly. "It's good to be back! Thank you for the flowers you sent. They were beautiful!"
"You're doing a great job," Margaret encouraged the young mother. "You're baby's going to be here any minute."
"I-I don't know if I-I can do this. It h-hurts..."
Margaret rubbed her shoulders and said, "Just keep calm, Mary Alice, you're fine."
Suddenly the obstetrician said, "Put her under, Margaret, stat!"
"Dr. Donaldson? Is something..."
"Just get her under...we have to do a C-Section or we're going to lose them both!" he whispered to Margaret.
"It's okay Mary Alice, just breathe deeply."
As soon as the young mother was unconscious Dr Donaldson made his incision and deftly removed the baby. It was a little girl but something was wrong. There was silence and the baby was very still, the umbilical cord wrapped around her neck.
"Bag her!" yelled the doctor unwinding the cord and then doing heart massage on the tiny chest. "Come on little girl, you'll have a long life ahead of you if I have anything to say about it!"
Margaret felt the room was spin out of control. She leaned against the wall with her head in her hand.
Nurse Miller, ambo bag in hand, held her breath and released it slowly as she saw the bluish color of the baby turn to pink.
After her first spanking, the baby let out a loud cry.
Dr. Donaldson stood back and smiled around at the nurses. "Just a lucky shot."
"Lucky shot, nothing. It was nothing short of brilliant," said Nurse Miller. "Wasn't that a dazzling performance, Margaret?...Margaret are you all right?"
Margaret could barely make out the other nurse's face and her voice seemed very far away.
"Get her out of here!" yelled the doctor.
"Margaret?" She opened her eyes to see Doris looking down at her.
"Oh no, I didn't pass out, did I?"
"I'm afraid you did," said Doris. "Do you have any idea what happened to you in there?"
"I-I'm not quite sure," said Margaret. She sat up on the bed. She looked around to see that she was in one of the patient rooms that wasn't currently in use. She was still in scrubs.
"The baby...it was dead...the cord was wrapped around her neck...then I blacked out. I guess something inside me snapped..." The tears were coming so fast that there was no chance of her keeping them in check.
Doris put her arms around Margaret and said, "There there, you just let it out." Doris rocked her and stroked her hair until she was finished crying.
"Now," said the older nurse, "I want you to come to the nursery. There's someone I want you to meet."
Margaret wondered whom Doris could be talking about. Doris led her to a bassinet with a pink bundle. She picked up the infant and showed her to Margaret.
"This is little Miss Joan Marie Tucker...she weighed in at six pounds and seven ounces and her mother is Mary Alice Tucker."
"You checked out before you saw the whole performance. Dr. Donaldson was able to resuscitate her. I'm not used to having one of my nurses pass out in the delivery. That job is usually reserved for the new fathers," laughed Doris.
"Doris, I'm so sorry and embarrassed. I've never had that happen before."
"Margaret, give yourself a little break. What you've been through, it shouldn't happen to a dog. Things will get better, I promise. You're an excellent nurse...one of the best I've seen, so much passion.
"Here, Miss Tucker is ready for her feeding. Mama is still out cold so it's up to you."
Doris handed her the baby and the bottle. Margaret sat down in the rocking chair with her. She kissed the baby's silky head and held her close. The baby nursed eagerly. Margaret smiled and whispered to the baby, "We're both going to be okay."
Our Little Toledo Mud Hen is here!
Brian Yong Klinger
Born Monday, January 10, 1955
At 6:00 PM
He weighed 8 lbs. 3 oz.
And was 20 inches long
"Wow, Colonel, I can't believe you made a special trip to see our kid," said Max.
"This grandparent thing is getting to be a habit with us," said Sherman. "We were there in Crabapple Cove for the birth of Hunnicutt's baby and we went to Ottumwa to see Radar's baby. We didn't make it out to New York see the Freedman's little guy though."
"He's a cute one," said Mildred who was already holding the baby and rocking him.
"Ya done good, Max," said Sherman slapping the Lebanese man on the back. "And thanks for the stogie."
Max had spent the night of his son's birth handing out cigars to all the guys in the pool hall but had managed to save a few back.
"I'm going to teach him to bowl and take him to Mud Hen games."
"Here, Stud, why don't you start bonding with this boy by changing his diaper," said Mildred, handing him the now screaming baby.
"Soon-Lee I think the boy favors you more than he does his dear old dad," said Sherman to the petite Korean woman sitting on the couch.
Soon-Lee colored a bit and smiled, "I think he be darker like Max but he has Korean eye. Both Max and I have brown eye...so Brian have brown eye."
"I can't argue with that reasoning," laughed Sherman. "Brian Yong, sounds like a good name."
"'Yong' mean brave and strong," said Soon-Lee. "He will be brave man like Max."
Sherman laughed remembering the brave Max Klinger dressed as Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz, among other costumes he wore to try to get out of the army. He had to admit that in the clinches, Max had shown himself courageous.
"So tell me, not that it's really any of my business," said Sherman. "How do you plan to support this little family of yours now that Uncle Sam isn't your boss, Max?"
"That's easy, Sir. I got a job at a tailor shop and I'm going to learn to be a tailor. After all the sewing I did in Korea I think I have a shot at being a decent one."
Sherman laughed, "That you do. That you do."