My mother with her great granddaughter!
Shaky hands and sweaty fingers tapped and pressed on numbers furiously until the phone toppled to the floor. It was a new device and one that had been purchased so that communication would be convenient and regular. Only a month earlier he made the first visit and with it a case for being forgiven and resuming family life. Tears streamed down his face and explanations were offered that revealed motives for this rash and quick decision. Each night coming home to an empty home, losing everything he had worked so hard for and the idea that we were never coming back had all driven him to a marriage that had become tenuous at best. He vowed to do anything that was requested of him in order to make things work, even divorce was an option and sending her back to her family. There was no real marriage only a life of convenience and obligation and the only thing he knew with certainty was that he could not live without me and his children.
I scooped the phone up and forced myself to view the photos that I had requested. It was time to face reality and facts that were undeniable. I thought of my mother and the countless hours she had spent helping us and the way she chose to live her life. She could not be dissuaded and continued to collect outfits, toys and other accessories as she shopped for sales and discounts. Bags and sacks were stuffed under the guest room bed and handed out when she came for visits. As our family grew there were larger sacks and more space was needed for her many items. Snap up t shirts, pajamas for winter, little socks, pants and shirts all provided with each child in mind. Basically she and dad ended up supplying the majority of clothing and household items which included sheets, towels and even furniture. Mom continued this tradition as we moved to Saudi and each year boxes were packed and shipped or brought along with her and dad.
Some clothing was standard for everyday use and then there were more treasured items that were tucked away until the right time, delicately positioned between crisp layers of tissue paper and then placed into a gift bag. Both boys and girls received the same at the time of their birth, something to wear home from the hospital and a memorable garment that would be passed down to siblings for years to come. Tiny ruffled sleeves and delicate pink material complete with lightly embossed flowers and a white bow. This was the treasured newborn outfit for my first daughter and one that would be worn by her three sisters as well. Years passed and eventually baby clothes were placed in a bin and stored along with each child’s first outfit from Grandma.
Disbelief and shock still presided along with a sick and contradictory emotion. My mind could not process the picture that been requested and then casually sent. I already agreed to allow him back in and now felt ridiculous and small. The bedroom seemed dark and overwhelming and so I stood and took my place in the hall, agreeing not to panic. A walk outside might help or add to fury and unrest but nothing could be managed beyond a simple and unnoticed spot behind the closet door. I dialed his number one last time waiting for an answer until one was given. Yes that was a picture of his new daughter in the outfit that my mother had given to my first born daughter. He had every right to use whatever he wanted and it had been left behind so must not have been important.