Chapter 8 - Change on the Horizon
The Baby's here!
Jennifer Mary O'Reilly
She was born
Wednesday, October 20, 1954
She weighed 6 lbs. 2 oz.
And was 18 inches long
"She's a real looker, son," said Sherman. "A regular Greta Garbo."
"If you say so, Sir," said Radar who was proudly holding his baby daughter in his arms. There was nothing on this earth that compared to this, he thought. His finger thrilled to the touch of her soft cheek.
He grinned, "I think she likes me. Do you think she knows that I'm her daddy?"
"You know, I think she does, Radar," said Sherman.
"She's a good girl, too," said Patty. "She hardly ever cries. I can't believe she's two weeks old already."
"Have you heard from anyone else?" asked Sherman.
"Margaret and Hawkeye sent some diapers and the cutest little dress," said Patty.
"They really wanted to come see her but they said their jobs are keeping them pretty busy," said Radar.
"They do seem pretty happy," said Sherman. "We're going to try and have a BBQ at the Potter Homestead next summer. Maybe we'll all be able to get together then. I've kind of had my heart set on it since before we left Korea."
"The Hunnicutts said they're going to send us a box of Erin's clothes for Jenny," said Radar. "I think that's real swell of them. Dr. Winchester sent a savings bond for her for college."
"Would you like to hold the baby, Mildred?" asked Patty
"Do ducks quack?" asked Mildred. "Send that little sweetie over here to Gramma Potter."
Radar reluctantly handed Mildred the baby.
Sherman hugged Radar and said, "I just can't believe our little company clerk has a wife and a baby. You gotta admit, son. This is better than a teddy bear isn't it?"
"McShane, watch your footwork," Father Mulcahy called out to the boy in the blue trunks. "Watch out for his...um...oh dear...left hook."
The priest ran into the ring to make sure that Kevin McShane was okay. The boy had a difficult time because he was very nearsighted.
"Are you all right, my son?" said Father Mulcahy handing the boy a compress for his already bruised eye.
"Yeah, Father, I'm okay...thanks."
Since the priest had returned to his parish church in Philadelphia he'd been working with the CYO boys as a boxing coach.
The boys loved to hear stories of his "adventures" in Korea.
"Is it true that you did an operation on the back of a jeep?"
"Yes, Bobby...there was a doctor at the unit giving me instructions over the radio. It's not something I would ever want to do again. It was a terrifying experience."
"Wow! Father, you're a war hero!"
"I'd prefer to think of it as being in the place where the good Lord could use me."
"Excuse me, Father," said a fourteen year old boy with a bumper crop of freckles.
"Yes, David, how can I help you, my son?"
"The bishop says he'd like to see you in his office right away."
"Did he say what it was about?" Father Mulcahy couldn't imagine what he might have done to warrant being called into the bishop's office 'right away.'
"No Sir," David replied.
The priest headed for the bishop's office in a quandary.
"Good afternoon, Father!" said the jovial bishop. He was a big man with an imposing presence.
Father Mulcahy bowed and said, "Good afternoon, Your Holiness. Have I done something wrong."
Bishop Dennis' laugh rang out and echoed through the halls of the old building. "No no nothing like that!"
"Then what...?" Father Mulcahy puzzled.
"Father, I've had my eye on you lately and I'm wondering, is there something bothering you?"
"Bothering me? I'm not sure I understand..."
"Father, since you've been back from Korea you seem...different somehow...distant..."
"I perform my duties here to the best of my ability."
"That's just it. You 'perform'...I don't see the spark...the enthusiasm I once saw. Francis, is there something I can help you with?"
Father Mulcahy's eyes lit up as a thought occurred to him, "Your Holiness, perhaps there is something you can help me with at that. When I was serving at the 4077th MASH I did the usual things you would expect from an army chaplain: counseling, giving absolution, hearing confessions, and administering last rites. But there was more to my service in Korea. Where I really felt I made a difference was at Sister Theresa's Orphanage in Uijongbu. The scripture 'Suffer the little children come unto Me' came alive in my heart. Those children looked up to me, depended on me. Your Holiness, I've never felt more alive then when I was with those precious little ones. Now that the war is over and I'm back 'home' I find that I've never been more 'homesick.'"
Father Mulcahy bowed his head to hide the tears that now streamed down his cheeks.
Bishop Dennis listened intently, studying the eyes of the other priest. He could see the sincerity in the man. He admired this gentle priest. He truly had a call from God on his life and lived it out like few others he'd known.
"Francis, I don't want to make promises I can't keep, but let me see if I can't put in a call to the Archbishop and to Sister Theresa to see if we can't use a priest in Korea."
Father Mulcahy grabbed the bishop's hand, "Thank you! Thank you! I don't know how I can ever thank you!"
"I think you just did!" Bishop Dennis laughed.
"Nurse Pierce? Margaret, are you okay?"
Margaret suddenly felt the room sway under her feet as she leaned over to adjust the blanket of one of the newborn infants on the unit.
"Yes, Doris, I-I'm fine," she said to the other nurse.
"You care to try that again? You're the same color as your uniform. Why don't you sit down for a few minutes?"
"Yes...okay...it's very warm in here. I'll be okay after I sit for a while. I can just...oh...oooh..."
Margaret ran down the hall to the rest room and promptly lost her lunch.
When she returned to the nursery Doris was standing by the door with her arms folded across her chest. "I see how okay you are. I think you should go home. You don't want to expose these babies to anything if you're sick. The flu's been making the rounds you know."
Margaret looked at the clock. It was nearly five o'clock. Hawkeye would be off work soon, barring any unforeseen emergencies.
"Okay...thanks, Doris. I'll just go and wait for Dr. Pierce to get off."
Margaret was thankful for Doris Goldman. She was the head nurse on the maternity ward. She was everyone's Jewish mother. She looked out for the nurses as if they were all her children. She was the mother of three and the grandmother of seven. You could say, however, that she was the grandmother of thousands because she claimed every baby born in their hospital.
It had been a change for Margaret when she first came to work on the unit at Portland General. During her three years in Korea she'd become accustomed to being the chief. Now she had to learn to be one of the Indians. If the truth were told, Margaret felt a sense of relief at not having to run the show. She'd been able to relax and enjoy her job. She was truly happy simply being 'Nurse Pierce' as opposed to 'Major Houlihan.'
"B-floor, Chester," Margaret said to the elevator operator.
"Yes, Nurse Pierce," said the elderly man. "You feeling okay, ma'am? You don't look so good. I hear tell lot of sickness going around."
"I'm a little under the weather. Thank you for asking Chester."
When she got to the trauma center, Margaret headed for Hawkeye's office. The lights were out. He's probably in surgery, she thought with a sigh. She looked around the room. It was a comforting place for her because it said "Hawkeye" in every corner. She found it odd that he actually kept an orderly office. After the way he kept himself and the swamp in Korea she wasn't sure what to expect when she'd come to join him last year.
She looked at his desk. He had a few pictures there. There was one of their wedding pictures. Hawkeye was so handsome in that tuxedo, she thought.
There was the picture that Peg had sent just last week of the Hunnicutt family. Ben's getting so big she thought he's seven months old already. He had one tooth and in the picture he was smiling wide to show it off. Erin was a pixie. Her hair was a little darker than BJ's and she had his blue eyes.
She smiled as she looked at the group shot of the 4077 group they'd taken for the reunion that their families had in New York on March 28, 1952. There they were under the Fort Dix sign so Klinger's mother wouldn't know they were in Korea. Margaret grinned at Hawkeye in the picture in his cowboy hat and tux. He'd fight to the death to keep his civilian status.
Margaret suddenly felt overwhelmed by a wave of exhaustion. She decided to lie on the couch until Hawkeye finished. He'd had the couch put there for those times when an emergency surgery would last into the wee hours of the night or next morning. It was much safer for him to sleep there then to drive home in such a tired state.
"That's funny," said Hawkeye to himself. "I don't remember leaving a light on."
Margaret moaned and stirred in her sleep on the couch.
"Margaret, what are you doing there? That would explain why you weren't home when I called to tell you I was going to be late."
"Oh, I guess I fell asleep. Doris ran me out of the nursery early. She's afraid I might give the babies something they don't need. I wasn't feeling well so I thought I'd wait until you got off work and ride home with you. I thought I could leave my car here and drive it home tomorrow."
Hawkeye sat down next to her and felt her forehead. "You don't seem to be running a fever. What are your symptoms?"
"Nausea, dizziness and exhaustion...so am I going to live, Dr. Pierce?"
"I think after I take you home and give you some of Dr. Pierce's very special TLC you might stand a chance at a normal life."
She threw back her head and laughed. "See," he said, "It's working already."