Monday, October 3, 2011

Happy birthday, Dede

Forty-seven years ago yesterday, October 2, 1964, my life changed forever. On that day I became a mother for the first time. My beautiful first daughter, Dolores, entered the world. Everyone was happy.

I brought that new life into the house in the woods on Bay Shore Drive on that beautiful fall day, with my mother to help, and I thought, What do I do now? I knew almost nothing about parenting. Rick knew even less. I asked Mother how to change a diaper. She said she didn’t remember. The small amount of teenage babysitting I had done had been with children, not infants. What a beginning.

I had asked my doctor some basic questions, and he had said to ask my mother. Those were the days when new mothers didn’t have books to consult or classes to help prepare. I didn’t have friends nearby to scare me with their new mother advice. I barely knew how to hold a baby. At the hospital the nurses had shown me how to breastfeed. They also had told me that if I ate vegetables in the cabbage family, it would make the milk taste bad. Really super instructions.

Somehow, Dede, (her nickname then), Rick and I made it as a family. Dede had some interesting times in her first year. She got her first tooth at four months. Sometime later she got her head stuck between the slats of her crib, an old crib with widely spaced slats. Rick was at work, so we were home alone. I held her head and wondered if we would have to stay that way for the rest of the day; it was morning. Miraculously, her head slipped back into the baby side of the crib. We replaced that crib with a better one.

Dede was a beautiful, bright child, interested in everything. She walked at one year and never looked back. When she started walking, she kept going. After her brother John was born, she regarded him as a new toy. When Mary came along, she was competition. Dede was more neutral about the arrivals of Libby and Sarah. School came easy, although she never studied and seldom did her assignments. She wrote perfect tests and said she didn’t need to do all that homework; she knew the material. She showed musical talent, singing around the house as a toddler and later playing piano, trumpet (briefly) and French horn. She didn’t date much as a teenager. She dated more as a student at UW-Eau Claire.

Dede married, gave birth to two wonderful daughters, Katie and Dana, got divorced, and lost daughter Katie to type one diabetes when Katie was sixteen. She gave higher education another try after having given it up sometime before she married Bill. She took up library work.

She still is interested in everything. She has long term friends. She stays connected to her family.

Happy birthday, Dede. I love you.

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