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Thursday, September 08, 2005

Daniel Gets His Own

Daniel Gets His Own Room
May 1945

The next day Livy came downstairs after Daniel’s first feed. Ray was eating his breakfast. Her plate of breakfast was being kept warm in the oven; he did that for her. They greeted each other with a kiss, and she sat down to eat. Their conversation was about their daily stuff: what they each planned to do that day. Ray said that since the crops were already planted he just had the normal daily chores to do, and after that he could always find something to do! She hesitatingly said that she would like to make some changes. Ray’s eyebrows went up and he asked, ‘What kind of changes?’ Livy said, ‘I would like to repaint some of the rooms.’

Ray said, ‘You can do anything you want.’

‘Well,’ Livy said, ‘It’s your house.’ Ray tried to interject, and Livy knew that he was going to say, its our house. ‘Really, Ray,’ said Livy, ‘What I mean is that your grandfather built this house, its been your family’s home for many years. Even though I now live here, and am your wife, I would never assume that I could change anything I wanted. I would consult with you out of respect for you and your family.’

Ray nodded and smiled, Reverend Case sure knew how to pick out a good wife for him!  Ray said, ‘Thank you, I respect that,’ and smiled warmly at his wife.

Livy said, ‘I have been doing some reading about when a child should get their own room. Some of it depends on the parents, but mostly its for the child’s sake to help them develop a sense of self and independence.’ At this point Livy was looking at her plate and pushing her food around as she was feeling somewhat shy about continuing this topic. ‘When they get older they can hear things,’ and her voice trailed off, and then she continued haltingly, ‘in the night, you know, us,’ and she cleared her throat, ‘I would hate for him to wake up and hear us, you know,’ and again her voice trailed off, and she had to clear her throat again and could not go on.

Ray wasn’t saying anything, so she looked up at him. He was smiling at her, having a chuckle at her expense because she was having such a hard time talking about them making love! He thought that was really sweet.

‘I thought of that, too,’ said Ray. ‘We could be more expressive without him in the room.’ They quickly glance at each other and blush, both feeling shy,  and then they burst out laughing. Ray reached over and squeezed her hand.

‘So, Ray, what do you think? Can we do it?’ Livy asked.

‘Well, I could move the furniture out of Martha’s old room, and we could find some place to store it. The bunkroom isn’t used that much so maybe we could set it in there for the time being.’ said Ray. ‘And you could paint the room, we have a bit of money that we could do that. I could talk to Martha and see if she is done with the crib, or we could buy one. The one Martha has is the one my parents used for us kids, and I’m sure Chester isn’t using it anymore!’ and they both laughed at the thought of Chester still using the crib.

Livy said, ‘That would be nice, but we use it for Daniel when we visit her.’

‘No matter,’ Ray said, ‘We could get a new one if you want. But we could ask her.’

‘All right,’ said Livy. ‘Do you need the truck today? I would like to go shopping to check on styles and prices of cribs, maybe a dresser, and some paint.’

‘You know what?’ Ray said, ‘I won’t be using the truck, and the work that I was thinkin’ of doin’ today could wait a day, I would love to come to town with you. I know its not like going out to dinner, or dancing, or going to the picture show, but we would be spending time together away from the farm. But we could have a look around town, make a family day of it, and maybe get our own crib and make it a new family tradition.’

Livy smiled and said, ‘That sounds nice!’

‘And with me there someone will always have Daniel, and you won’t have to look after him and look for a crib and paint all by yourself,’ Ray said.

‘Thank you, Ray,’ Livy said softly, and smiled lovingly at him.

‘No problem, I’m happy to do it,’ said Ray smiling back at her, and leaned over and gave her a quick peck on the cheek. ‘Well, we’d better get ready to go!’

‘Is there anything you need to do before we go?’ asked Livy, ‘Daniel will be asleep for about an hour yet.’

‘Well, I have some things I could do for a while, and then we could go after lunch,’ Ray said.

It was a rare occasion when they both got to leave the farm at the same time except to go to church, or over to visit Martha and her family, so each was looking forward to spending the afternoon together.

They had an early lunch and drove the hour to La Junta. Daniel was a bit fussy at first because he had not been in the truck for that length of time before, but after a couple of miles the sound of the truck made him sleepy. Ray and Livy talked quietly about ideas for the room.

In town they checked out the prices and styles of cribs. While doing so Ray remembered how he had fixed the cradle with wood from the dugout that his grandparents had lived in. He said, ‘Livy, after looking at these cribs, the do not seem to be very sturdy. Remember how I fixed the cradle with wood from the dugout?’

Livy’s eyes grew wide. ‘Yes,’ she said, ‘And you did a beautiful job!’

‘Well, I think I can make a whole crib.’

‘My only concern, Ray, is how long will it take to make?’ asked Livy. ‘Daniel should be moved out of our room in the next couple of weeks.’

‘Well, like I said, since the planting is done, I only have the daily chores to do, so I could build it in a couple of days, or at least a week. Not that it’s a problem, but it would save us a bit of money,’ Ray said.

Livy’s eyes got misty, ‘Oh, Ray, that’s a wonderful idea! Daniel will start his own family tradition! And, Ray, if I may ask, maybe we could use the money for a mattress and some blankets.’ Ray nodded in agreement, and they went to shop for a mattress and bedding for the new crib.

After that they went to another store to look at paint colours. They had a lot of fun with each other trying to see who could come up with the worst suggestion of paint colours that they could find!  They finally settled on a blue that could be accented with pink if they had a girl baby at some time.

When they got home that day it was too late for Ray to start a farm project, so after his chores were done Ray moved the bed and dresser out of Martha’s old room into the bunkroom. The next day after the morning chores he went out to the dugout to get the wood and started making the crib.  Since the furniture was moved out Livy washed the walls and floor and cleaned out the closet between the times she needed to take care of Daniel. There were some of Martha’s childhood treasures and clothes in the closet from her childhood and teenage years, so she put them in the bunkroom closet too. After that she brought Ray upstairs and they discussed where to put the crib and dresser.

The next day Livy started to put primer on the walls. As the room was gradually changing from that of a teenage girl to that of a baby boy, a feeling of excitement come over her. The feeling within her was that more and more she belonged here. Last fall when Ray had told her about the ‘junk’ in the cellar, and he brought up the pieces she wanted, she lovingly restored each item and placed the pieces around the house. She felt then that the house was taking on some of her own taste and design, and therefore becoming more her home, but she certainly did not want to make it less like Ray’s house.

She then felt uncomfortable about the changes, and it felt like she was infringing on Ray’s domain. She remembers later asking him about it and he just laughed! He said it had been this way for too long, and that the house needed a refreshing change, and a woman’s touch, especially hers, he had said lovingly, and that the changes were very much appreciated.

That night at supper Ray brought up the subject they had talked about a few nights ago, of Denver, and about her friends, family and university. He asked her if there was any particular friend that she missed.

Livy looked up at him in surprise. Ray was eating his supper, and since she didn’t answer right away, he looked up. Livy had a wistful look on her face. ‘Yes,’ she said sadly, ‘I miss my friend Dot.’ She went on to say that when she left Denver so suddenly she had not been able to find out what Dot thought about her getting pregnant, and then had left soon after that to get married. She had not communicated with her because she didn’t want to hear her disapproval about being pregnant and not married.

Ray’s head jerked up. ‘Disapproval,’ he said, ‘She’s your friend.’

‘I know,’ Livy said softly. ‘She was my best friend.’

‘Have you heard from here since you came here?’ asked Ray.

‘No’, Livy said so quietly Ray wasn’t sure she’d even spoken.

‘Why?’ asked Ray.

‘Oh, I don’t know,’ said Livy sadly, ‘Maybe she’s ashamed of me. She was there the night I met Edward. Maybe she feels a bit responsible. I don’t know.’

‘Livy, regardless, she was your friend,’ Ray said.

‘I know. I know that, Ray,’ she said.

He said, ‘You’d think she would want to stay in touch with you, Livy.’

‘Maybe,’ and her voice trailed off. ‘You know, under different circumstances she probably would have been my maid of honour.’

‘Umhm’ said Ray. ‘Livy, I’m sorry to have brought this up. I didn’t mean to upset you.’

‘That’s okay, Ray,’ Livy whispered. ‘Well at least now I have Martha for a friend. And Ruth.’

Ray smiled, ‘Ruth just adores you.’

‘Oh, don’t be silly, Ray!’

‘She does,’ said Ray softly, ‘But no one could adore you more than me!'

‘Thank you, sweetheart,’ Livy said with the love shining from her eyes at this wonderful man she had married.

The next morning Livy applied the first coat of blue paint while Daniel slept.  Ray had not gone out to the barn yet to continue on the crib, so while the paint was drying they went into the bunkroom to rearrange the furniture. Ray quietly closed the door and came up behind Livy and pulled her to him.  He moved her long hair out of the way and started kissing the soft curve of her neck. Livy responded to his touch. She turned to him and as they were kissing they started to undress each other. They inched their way over to his old bed while still kissing and were now running their hands over each others naked bodies. Locked in this embrace neither remembers which one did it, but someone pulled down the covers on the bed. It was a bit awkward, but they managed to get onto the bed without separating from their loving kisses. By the time they were on the bed, they were both ready, and enjoyed the pleasures of each others bodies. Since Daniel wasn’t in the room they both felt freer to express themselves physically and verbally. It was very exhausting but satisfying for both. After, as they lay wrapped in each others arms Ray said, ‘We should have moved Daniel out of the room a long time ago.’ Livy laughed, and Ray covered her lips again with his so she wouldn’t wake Daniel.

Later that day when the paint was dry Livy applied the second coat. The room was changing into a nursery. She smiled at her work. Ray was busy in the barn making the crib. After Daniel’s afternoon nap Livy changed his diaper and took him out to the barn to see what his daddy was doing. Ray greeted Livy with a kiss on the lips, and greeted Daniel with a kiss on the forehead and tousled his hair.

‘How’s my big boy?’ he said to Daniel.

Livy and Daniel stayed for about half an hour watching Ray work, and then Daniel started to fuss so Livy took him back to the house. When Ray came in for supper he said to Livy, ‘You know, I was thinkin’ ‘bout something in the barn. We could use my brother Danny’s dresser for Daniel. And it would free up more space in the bunkroom for the stuff from Martha’s old room.’

‘Oh, Ray, that’s wonderful!’ said Livy, and then softly, ‘I love that idea. Daniel will have a new crib made of old wood from his grandparents house and a dresser from his Uncle Danny, his namesake.’ The both smiled at each other warmly, but each with tears in their eyes because of  the significant family connection.