Monday, October 02, 2006

Anxiety Attack!

Of late, I have noticed Bea is more confused during her waking hours. Also, as each period of non-sleep progresses, it becomes more of a challenge to make out her words. When she – does talk – all her – sentences are – delivered in – this choppy – speech pattern.

Our day starts off well enough with relatively clear thoughts and words:

BEA: “Am I glad to see you! Do you think I can go all the way to New York?”

ME: “I doubt it. Why do you want to go to New York?”

BEA: “To see an old beau …”

But I return later to find my mother desperate:

BEA: “I’ve been having an awful time. I have to ask you to help me. I’m in a troubled condition, and I’m not out of it yet. I have to get the baby here.”

ME: “Which baby?”

BEA: “I want both of them in the same place. I have to have both of them in the same place because people are complaining. It is extremely painful to me. I have to have people understand. The point is they want me to come and take the baby -”

ME: “Which baby?”

BEA: “I’m beside myself.”

ME: “How can I help you?”

BEA: “As you know I will die shortly. I’m going to be 100 years old.”

ME: “97.”

BEA: “197?”

ME: “97.”

BEA: “I want to get these two people to cooperate and take the baby with them because they are very strongly not wanting the baby. They can only care for their own baby.”

ME: “Do I know them?”

BEA: “Of course you do!”

ME: “Can you tell me their names?”

I propose several baby names. My mother indicates her concern is for the baby born to her niece Dotty in 1953.

I explain how grateful teenage Dotty was that her aunt took her into our home in Washington, DC. It now occurs to me that my mother’s early abortion made her uniquely placed to shepherd Dotty through the experience of an untimely pregnancy. I am about to say the baby is grown up now when Bea interrupts:

BEA: “I want someone else to go talk to them. They are not taking no for an answer. I see their point of view. They have to get the baby to somebody else. I think you must understand that I cannot cope with this anymore. They’re breaking my heart. Can you call and find out for me?”

ME: “Who should I call?”

BEA: “You must have her number. Tell them you cannot have anybody else’s baby but your own. They want you to come and take the baby. I’m dying over this.”

I reassure Bea that the baby has become a fine young woman, that her adoptive mother went out of her way to bring Beth up according to the instructions Dotty provided, that she had art lessons, piano lessons. I find the email Dotty’s youngest daughter Ellen sent after reading the blog August 24 and read out loud:

“I think the time with you all in DC was the best of the worst for her. She always credited Aunty Bea with things going as well as they could with the adoption etc. so I don't know perhaps if there were things we weren't ever told? She basically always made it sound like she had Aunty Bea to thank for Beth’s life … From what my mom told us there were papers she was allowed to fill out describing what kind of parents she thought would be best suited for her baby and adding information about the mother and father’s background. Perhaps that's what Bea is thinking of ...”

Dotty’s youngest sister Margot also responded to the August 24th blog and adds another piece to the puzzle: “I found the part about Dotty going to the National Gallery very poignant. Dotty always loved beautiful things. I am glad she was able to experience some beauty in what must have been a ghastly time for her. Did you know I didn't find out about Beth until I was 23???”

Dotty named her baby Damaris because she knew the name would make it easier to find her later on. Beth emails, “Damaris was not just an unusual name, but was the name of a girl in the book Dot was reading who was pregnant with an illegitimate child....”

I cannot help but wonder if Bea was not responsible for Dotty’s reading material. American society condemned untimely pregnancies in the early fifties. Bea's anxiety attack indicates what a traumatic episode Dotty's pregnancy and Beth's adoption must have been for the entire family …


Blogger EllenDottysyoungest said...

Wow - amazing. After reading about Bea's abortion I too thought - how perfect that my mother was sent to her during her pregnancy - in many ways I'm sure Bea was able to really put my mom at ease.
I started out reading this thinking of what it was like when I worked in the Nursing Home my dad ran in Port Jefferson - many of the elderly residents would ramble on about things that seemed senseless and their immediate families (if they were around) were often totally confused about what was being said. Now I wonder, were many of these things secrets that were never shared? Thoughts that were never expressed? I hope the information about Beth calmed Bea down - she should know how much she was loved by her neice Dotty and how all worked out pretty darn well in the end.

2:33 PM  

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