Chapter 6 - Hello Goodbye
"Are you coming to bed any time soon?" asked Margaret. She stood at the door of the study where Hawkeye had come to be alone. "Everyone has gone to bed. It looks like all flights are postponed until Wednesday and Thursday. The Potters and the O'Reilly's are going back Wednesday. The Freedmans, Father Mulcahy and my mom are going home Thursday morning and Lorraine is going back Thursday night. And of course, the Hunnicutts will be with us for a couple of weeks until Peg and the baby are up to the trip."
Hawkeye continued to stare in to the fire without looking up, "It's been a veritable travel agency around here hasn't it?" He looked up at her and said, "Come here." He pulled her onto his lap. He started singing softly, "Unforgettable that's what you are..."
Margaret leaned up against him and sighed. Hawkeye said, "Margaret if you feel like you need to go to bed I'll understand. You don't need to keep me company. You've had a pretty hectic day. Did I tell you how wonderful you were with the delivery? I was impressed actually. Portland General Obstetrics is lucky to have you on their staff."
"Hawkeye, are you okay? You've been pretty distant since the baby was born."
"It's been a long weekend...I'm tired."
"Are you sure that's all it is?" she asked, turning to look him in the eye. "I'm your wife now, Dr. Pierce. You can be honest with me."
"Okay...okay...yeah...I'm a little shaken. It was unsettling to have a flashback in the middle of the birth of my best friend's son. I feel like..."
"Like you betrayed him somehow?"
Hawkeye looked at her, startled by her perception. "Yeah. That pretty much describes the feeling. This is one of the pinnacles of Beej's life and all I can do is think of how it affects me."
She hugged him and said, "Hawkeye, you didn't have that flashback to spite BJ. It just happened. You went through some ugly experiences in Korea; my guess is that you aren't going to just 'get over it.'
Just then Sherman passed by the study. "Oh sorry folks, I didn't mean to eavesdrop. I had to visit the little boy's latrine and couldn't help overhearing. Hawkeye, that little wife of yours has a lot of horse sense. I agree with her. You are the winner and 'champeen' when it come to K-Oing yourself."
Hawkeye said sadly, "Thanks Sherm. Margaret. Thanks for your words of wisdom. Has it ever stopped for you Sherman, the nightmares, the flashbacks?"
"Son, I've been through three wars. I served in the cavalry, was wounded and spent some time as a POW in the first one. I've seen some pretty unspeakable horrors during my lifetime. Mildred can tell you I still have nightmares. I'm here to tell you that it wasn't any easier by the third war...You never get over those things, Hawkeye. You learn to live with them.... somehow. That's all any of us can do," said Sherman.
"At least I have a woman at my side that was there," Hawkeye smiled at Margaret. "She understands me and loves me in spite of it."
"Now you're talking, Hawkeye. Now if you two young'uns will excuse me I'm going to go join Mother for a snooze. See you in the morning."
"I think perhaps we should follow his lead," said Margaret, yawning.
"You do have a lot of horse sense, Mrs. Pierce. So, shall we go bed down in the stable for the night?" said Hawkeye as he picked her up and carried her upstairs to their room.
"So what do you think, Erin? Should we keep your baby brother?" asked BJ. He sat with Erin on his lap beside the bed where Peg was holding little Ben.
"Yeth, keep Benny."
Peg laughed, "Benny? I don't know if I like that or not. It makes me think of Jack Benny."
BJ laughed, "I think 'Ben' will suffice."
"Isn't he beautiful, BJ? He won't stay little long. He has a healthy appetite," said Peg. "He looks a lot like his daddy."
"Yeah, did you see the feet on that kid? They're already miniature gunboats!" exclaimed Hawkeye as he walked into the room.
"Hey! Hawkeye good morning! How can I ever thank you for what your family did for us?"
Hawkeye slapped BJ on the back, and then hugged him. "Who knows maybe you'll do the same for us someday."
"Would you like to hold Ben, Hawkeye?" asked Peg offering him the baby.
"Um...sure," said Hawkeye. Feeling a little uneasy, he leaned over to take the baby from her. He sat down with little Ben and ran his finger across one of his tiny hands "Look, he grabbed my finger!"
"You look like a natural father, Hawkeye," said Daniel as he entered the room wearing his stethoscope around his neck. "I've come to check on my patients."
Margaret was the next one to come into the room. She saw her husband holding the baby and smiled. He looked comfortable holding the baby. After his flashback yesterday, Margaret was concerned about Hawkeye and babies. She didn't want to think that he might be ill at ease around his own children one day.
"Everything seems to be fine here. Peg, I gave you a shot of Penicillin yesterday and I'm going to give you another today. This is just a precaution to make sure you don't come down with an infection. We're not exactly hospital sterile around here," Daniel said, winking at Margaret.
"Breakfast everyone!" came the call from downstairs.
"That would be the voice of Rose Houlihan," said Daniel. "Pushiest damn woman I've ever met. No offense intended, Margaret. I suppose we'd better get down there before she blows a gasket."
"Dad, I think the only one getting ready to blow a gasket is you," laughed Hawkeye.
"I'll go down and fix a plate for you, Peg," said BJ, "then I'll be back up to have breakfast with you."
"You don't have to do that, BJ," said Peg. "This is the last full day everyone will be together. You should spend some time with your friends."
"I want to," insisted BJ. "I missed out on Erin's infancy, I don't want to miss a minute of Ben's"
"Does this mean you're going to quit your job and stay home?" asked Peg slyly.
"Maybe tonight you can come downstairs for supper and do some socializing," said Daniel.
Peg smiled at him; "I'd like that...it feels a little lonely up here away from everyone."
"I wouldn't worry about that," said Hawkeye. "I have a feeling you'll be having a few visitors up here before the day is out. Everyone wants to see Benjamin Hunnicutt, my namesake."
"Hold on there, sonny," said Daniel. "That's Benjamin Daniel Hunnicutt." Then he added to Peg, "If you have too many visitors I'll shoo them away. I want you to get some rest, young lady."
"Come on you two," said Margaret. "We'd better get downstairs before Mom calls again!"
"These pancakes are wonderful, Rose!" exclaimed Patty. "You'll have to give me your recipe. I think Walter really likes them."
Everyone laughed when they looked at Radar's plate that was piled high with pancakes and syrup. When he saw that he was the center of attention Radar blushed.
"Geez Louise! Can't a guy eat breakfast without the whole world gawking at him?"
"I love you, Walter!" said Patty trying not to giggle.
"It has been a wonderful weekend, Hawkeye," said Father Mulcahy. "You've often been in my prayers since we left Korea. I'm pleased to see that you're doing so well. And Margaret, you, are, indeed, a radiant bride. I wish you many years of happiness. The best part of the weekend is that I got to be a part of two miracles: a marriage and a new life. The good Lord has indeed been smiling on this house this week. Even the snow has been a blessing because it has extended our time together."
"Is there any chance of going into town today?" asked Rose.
"Why do you want to go to town?" asked Daniel.
"That poor little baby up there needs some clothes especially diapers," she answered. "I just thought if there was any way to get out...if maybe the roads are cleared that someone could take me into town. You know me I just want to help."
Father Mulcahy turned to Daniel and said with a smile, "Careful what you say under your breath, Dr. Pierce. I read lips."
"Don't try to walk too fast down these stairs," said Daniel holding Peg's arm. "I'm sorry we didn't put you in a downstairs bedroom, but who would have thought you'd decide to have your baby early."
Since everyone was still together Tuesday night the group decided that they should have a baby shower.
"Here Peg," said Margaret. "You get to sit in the rocking chair with the big blue bow. The snow is already starting to melt off the streets so we girls had a chance to go into town and do some baby shopping. I can't remember when I've had so much fun."
"I had trouble stopping," said Lorraine. "I never realized how much fun shopping for a baby can be."
"I can hardly wait until my baby gets here," said Patty smiling at Radar. She took his arm and said, "I mean our baby."
"What are we waiting for?" asked Rivka Freedman. "Let's see what you got!"
Charles and his girlfriend Louise Anderson had come up from Boston to see the baby and spend the evening with the 4077 family.
"Oh look at him, Charles," said Louise "Isn't he just the cutest little thing."
"Why is it that bald is adorable on a baby but not so on an adult?" asked Charles patting his hairless head."
"I like your bald head," said Louise in his defense. "It gives you an intellectual look."
"And we all know that the way to Louise's heart is through the encyclopedia," laughed Hawkeye.
Radar remembered Louise from the first year he was at MASH. He had had a terrible crush on her. She was way out of his league intellectually so there was never really a relationship between them. In spite of that fact, Hawkeye and Trapper had tried their best to play matchmaker. He was hoping that no one else would remember his infatuation and how he'd fallen all over himself trying to impress her.
Hawkeye grinned at Radar and almost as if he could read the younger man's thoughts he leaned over and whispered in his ear, "Aaah Bach!"
Radar turned crimson and mumbled, "Hawkeye! I would appreciate your keeping what you know about 'you know' to yourself."
Hawkeye patted him on the shoulder.
Peg opened a flat package first. It was from Louise and Charles. "Look BJ! It's a record."
"It's Brahams," said Louise. "His famous lullaby is on there and some other selected pieces. It's very soothing music."
"We wanted to give little Benjamin here a bit of culture," said Charles haughtily and then added, "Hunnicutt, he truly is a handsome child. And I am happy that you are reunited with your family."
Next Peg opened a large package from Rose and Margaret.
Rose said, " I knew that little fella needed some diapers so we got you six dozen. Don't worry about the cost. Colonel Houlihan had plenty of insurance."
"Mother!" said Margaret. "Is that really necessary?...I picked out the little outfits. I couldn't decide which one I liked the best so I got them all!"
"Open ours next," cried Patty.
Peg opened the package and pulled out a little brown teddy bear. "Oh BJ look! Isn't he just adorable?"
BJ smiled at Radar. "Reminds me of someone I knew a long time ago."
Radar shrugged his shoulders and said, "Every once in a while a guy needs a friend to help him through the rough spots, even if that friend's just a teddy bear."
Patty leaned over and kissed Radar's cheek.
"This one is from the Potters," said Peg as she opened the next package. There were some sleepers and a cowboy shirt.
"Who knows," said Sherman. "Maybe he'll be an equestrian like his old Grampa Potter."
"It could happen," said BJ "He has grandparents in Quapaw, Oklahoma.
"That's right," remembered Hawkeye. "I remember. Floyd Hayden. He helped us out the time Sophie had colic."
"That's my dad," smiled Peg. "He knows his animals."
Another small package was a Bible from Father Mulcahy. "It's not a Catholic Bible but it does have some nice pictures in it that he might enjoy when he gets a little older." BJ opened it and read the title page.
"'To Benjamin Daniel Hunicutt, May the angels watch over you always. from Father Francis Mulcahy. April 20, 1954'...Thank you, Father. This is something we'll always treasure." There were some more outfits from the Freedmans and Lorraine.
Lorraine exclaimed, "Ben's going to be the best dressed baby in Mill Valley!"
"I have one more present," said Hawkeye. "I had to really search for this one. It's a special present that will hopefully remind him of his Uncle Hawkeye."
Peg opened a small package. "Oh BJ l-look!" She was laughing so hard she nearly fell off of her chair. It was a child-sized pair of Groucho Marx glasses complete with nose and moustache.
Peg held them up to the sleeping baby's face and said, "Somebody take a picture quick!"
"That turned out to be quite a vacation, didn't it?" smiled Peg as she looked out from the airplane and then to the sleeping baby on her lap.
Erin was asleep on BJ's lap. "It's what I would call a loooong weekend," he said. "So what did you think about the people I served with in Korea? Quite a bunch aren't they?"
"It was hard for you to say goodbye to Hawkeye, wasn't it?"
"Well, Mrs. Pierce...I just love saying that," said Hawkeye with a grin. "It's just us Pierces here. You and me and my dad makes three."
Margaret put her arms around her husband, leaned her head against his chest and sighed and looked out their bedroom window.
"Are you feeling okay, Margaret?" asked Hawkeye.
"No," she smiled up at him. "I guess I'm just feeling the letdown from all of the activity being over. We had a very full house for a while."
He leaned over and kissed her. "Can I kiss your 'letdown' and make it better?"
She laughed and said, "If you think you're man enough."
Hawkeye went to the bed and pulled back the comforter and stared in disbelief. There under the comforter the bed was covered with cotton balls. When he moved the blanket the cotton balls flew in all directions. He picked up his pillow and threw it down only to be splattered with shaving cream that was on the underside of it.
"Cute Beej, very cute!" with that Hawkeye and Margaret laughed until they cried.