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Saturday, July 16, 2005

After's Daniel's Birth

I am posting this for mande with my apologies for a bit of a delay as I have been on vacation. Looks like another great one!
December 9, 1944

It had been a very long day at the Singleton household. That night at about 9:30 Livy and Ray got ready to go to bed. Ray carried the baby upstairs and into Livy’s room. He kissed him on the head and handed him to Livy and went to his room to sleep. After Livy fed the baby she put him in his cradle, then she put a pillow on the floor and sat down beside him. She watched her son sleep, listening to his peaceful breathing, and just marveling at what a wonderful gift he was!

After a few minutes Livy got up off the floor and got into her bed. She was so tired from the days events, but sleep would not come easily to her. As she lay there, she started to reflect on their busy day.

She thought back to around noon when she had done some more packing for her trip to Denver, fixed her hair and went downstairs. Ray was in the living room with Franklin. She was surprised about what he said to her next. With tears in his eyes he professed his love for her, and said that she was the best thing that ever happened to him. He took a ring out of his pocket and said, ‘That day when the preacher married us I forgot the ring. I have one now.’ Livy had said, ‘Ray, the truth is I don’t know that I deserve you. How do you know this could work?’ Ray said, ‘I know because some day you’re going to forgive yourself.’ Livy accepted his ring, but was still unsure of her feelings for him. Ray was such a kind, gentle man, and would do anything to make her happy, but she felt, at that moment, that she was still not worthy of him, and did not deserve his love, nor could she return his love. There was a moment of awkward silence between them.

Then she said she had made a commitment to meet the girls around noon, and since she was late now she said to Ray, ‘I’ve got to go meet the girls,’ and left in the truck. She tapped the gas gauge and noticed that she would need to go through Wilson to get gas before they started out on their trip. While driving, she looked at the ring Ray had given her. It was beautiful! She wondered if he had picked it out himself. A soft smile lit her face as she looked at the ring and thought about Ray.

Lying in bed still waiting for sleep to come, Livy continued to reflect on the days events.

By the time she met with Rose and Florrie it was almost 1:00. She apologized for being late. Florrie introduced her to Walter, and suggested they go to New Mexico for a drive. Livy was puzzled by Walter. He did not speak to her when they were introduced. When Livy said he would freeze in the back of the truck, and he said he would be fine, she detected a German accent, but he was dressed in an MP uniform. Livy was curious. She remembered when she had taken them to the mountains to look at butterflies, and Rose had discovered the picture of an MP uniform on one of the pages. Rose was upset that Florrie had put it in their butterfly observation book. Now Livy knew why the picture was there: she was sure they made the uniform for Walter to help get him out of the country.

When Livy and the girls got into the cab of the truck Livy did not mince her words. She was angry at the girls for deceiving her, and said, ‘You’re lonely and you’re reaching out for something to make it better. You can’t do this. You’ll be paying for it for the rest of your lives.’ Now, in the peace and quiet of her bedroom Livy recalled those words, and what they meant to her: that’s why she reached out to Edward, she was lonely, and so are the girls. And she knew only too well how bad choices could change the rest of your life.

As Livy drove the truck she had to make new plans quickly. She decided she wasn’t going to take them for a drive, or go to Wilson for gas, so Livy dropped the girls off and brought Walter to Ray’s house, her house. She left the truck keys where he would see them, and knew full well that if he took the truck he would run out of gas. After Walter left the house and started to drive away her water broke, so she called the sheriff and told him about Walter, and that she was in labour and needed some help.

When she was burning the MP suit and the locket with Edward’s picture in it, Hank and Ray came up the lane in Hank’s truck. Livy was so happy to see him! Ray said, ‘Livy, what on earth are you doing?’ And Livy, smiling, remembers saying, ‘I’m getting ready to have our baby.’ Ray picked her up and took her into the house while Hank went to get Martha. Ray and Livy prepared her bed for the birth, and Livy put on a nightgown, and got into bed, and they waited for Martha and the doctor to arrive. During the labour and birth, Martha helped Dr McCutcheon while Ray sat by her and held her hand, talked soothingly to her, and gave her any comfort he could. He would listen to Martha and the doctor for instructions to help Livy during the birthing experience. Livy smiled thinking about how helpful he was. He was so good to her! He was so patient with her throughout the whole birth. Actually, she smiled, he was patient with her all the time!

It was after 7:00 in the evening by the time the baby boy was born. Just after welcoming the baby into the world, Ray had to go to the barn to do the chores. While the doctor assisted Livy with some feeding and baby care instructions, Martha put fresh sheets and blankets on Livy’s bed, and put blankets and sheets in the cradle for the baby, and then went downstairs to make them some supper.

Shortly after Ray came into the house, after doing the chores, the doctor left. Ray saw Livy holding the baby in the living room. He sat in front of her, and she looked up at him, and held the baby out for him to hold. Ray sang a song to the baby, the one his father had sung to them as kids. Ray kissed the baby on the forehead and then looked up at Livy. She had been observing how wonderful he was with the baby, and had a smile on her face for him, but when Ray looked at her she became unsure of herself, and her smile faded. Ray leaned forward to kiss her, and she met him half way. It was an awkward kiss because he was holding the baby and both were leaning forward, but she still felt some uncertainty.

Livy smiled as she recalled the events of the day, but there was still something nagging at her. She got up to go to the bathroom. When she came out of the bathroom, Ray was in the hallway. He said, ‘Everything all right?’ Livy nodded and said, ‘Umhm.’ She looked at him, it was after 11:00 and Ray was awake.

Livy said, ‘Did I wake you?’
Ray said, ‘No, no, I wasn’t asleep.’

Livy said, ‘Oh.’

Ray said, ‘I was just thinking about all that happened here today.’

There was an awkward silence between them for a moment.

They both started to talk at the same time, and each said, ‘Sorry.’

Ray said, ‘Uh, you go first.’

Livy said slowly, ‘Um, all right. Ray, I want to thank you for all your help and support today. You have no idea how much it meant to me to have you there beside me.’

And Ray said, ‘I was happy to do it.’

Livy said, ‘And I was wondering what you thought we should call the baby.’

Ray looked at her with raised eyebrows. By her demeanor he thought maybe she was still thinking of leaving, and here she wanted his input about the baby’s name!

Ray said, ‘I, I don’t know, I haven’t given it much thought. Have you?’

Livy nodded said, ‘Yes, actually I have. Um, I know that the baby’s birth date is so close to the date of Daniel’s death, um but I was wondering,’ she swallowed and took her time, ‘if you would mind if we named him after your brother Daniel?’

Ray was in total shock! He still thought she was going to tell him she was leaving, but here she is asking for permission to call the baby, their baby, Daniel!

He could not speak for a moment, and this started to alarm Livy. She looked up at his face and realized that he was very emotional and was having trouble getting his words out.

Ray said, ‘Could we go sit down, maybe on my bed uh so as not to disturb the baby?’

Livy was very nervous.

Ray knew that Livy probably would be uncomfortable sitting, so he ensured that she was okay and then said, with his voice cracking at times, ‘I believe that my brother Daniel would have considered it an honour for me to name my son after him.’ Tears filled his eyes, but none fell. After a moment Ray continued, ‘And I know he would consider it an honour to know that you are the mother of his namesake,’ and in a whisper he said, ‘Daniel.’ After a moment he haltingly said, ‘So does this mean you are staying?’

Livy looked up at him and met his eyes and said, ‘Umhm.’

Ray was overjoyed! But there was a nagging question in his mind: is she staying because her father, in shame, sent his pregnant daughter here to marry him and that she felt she had no other choice? He said, ‘And why are you staying?’

Livy said softly, ‘Besides the fact that this is the day our son was born, there was something else that made this a special day for me.’ She told him about Florrie and Walter, and how they had deceived her, and how she told Florrie that she was reaching out to Walter for love because she was lonely, and she knows that that is why she reached out to Edward. She then told Ray that when he said, ‘Because one day you’re going to forgive yourself,’ it finally made sense to her. Her whole life should not be ruined by one mistake, and she would work at forgiving herself.

Ray put his arms around her and held her close. He whispered three words, ‘My wife, Livy.’ Livy buried her head in his chest and felt the loving comfort of her husbands arms around her. After a few minutes he loosened his hold, tipped her head back and kissed her, slowly at first, and then passionately, on the lips. She responded to his kiss with all the love in her heart for him. For the first time they could feel the love that had been growing between them. For both of them, the nagging thoughts in their heads finally stopped: they were home!

Ray and Livy stood up, and Ray carefully lifted Livy up and carried her out of his bedroom and into their bedroom. When they were snugly settled in their bed together Livy softly said, ‘Ray, I love you.’ And Ray said, ‘I know.’