We have no children, but children have always been an important part of our lives. Today while talking with Ann Stone, lymphodema therapist, as she worked on Barry's swollen leg, I remembered something quite strange that happened thirty five years ago.
At the time I worked with my sister-in-law, Yvonne, at Humpty-Dumpty Kindergarten. I adored the children in my classes, and at times I felt sad that we had no children of our own.
The truth came home to me when I had to have a hysterectomy. That was final! Now the whole thing was out of my hands. No children for me. BB said it was God's will. He had never been keen on being a father.
I arrived home around two o'clock one afternoon, went back to the bedroom and began changing clothes. The telephone rang and I answered.
A woman's voice said, "Is this Glenda Beall?"
"Would you take a baby that hasn't been born yet?"
"Well, I don't know." I couldn't believe my ears. This person wanted to give me a baby.
"Who is this? Tell me about the baby," I said to the anonymous caller.
"I can't tell you anything else. I just want to know if you will take this baby."
"Well, I can't say yes or no right now. I have to talk to my husband. I'd want to know more before I could answer. Call me back tonight."
"I can't. I have to know right now. Will you take this baby?"
Of course I had to tell her I could not accept a child from an anonymous voice on the phone. I had no idea who she was or who was having the baby or even if it would be legal to take this baby.
I never heard from the woman again. And I never knew who called. I suspected that an unmarried teen in our rural community had become pregnant. It had to be someone who knew us and felt confident we would give the child a good home.
I said to Barry, "If it is God's will that we have no children of our own, could it be God's will that we are to love the child of someone else? Was that strange conversation on the telephone God's way of saying, "this is your child?"
For many years that voice on the phone haunted me. What happened to that baby? Did it have a good life? What if we had taken the infant? How would it have changed our lives?
Another time we were chosen and asked to adopt a baby but we declined. What were we afraid of? Responsibility? The unknown personality or behavior of a child birthed by strangers? What kinds of traits would this baby inherit?
On Friday my niece will come and help us with things I can't do and Barry is unable to do. She spent some months living with us in her youth. She was adopted and adored by my sister and brother-in-law. Might we have had a daughter about her age now, or a son who would come and take Barry for physical therapy or help with chores around the house? I'm sure he would enjoy watching the golf tournaments on TV with his father.
What if? That simple question in a writer's mind often launches a novel.