It was late May 1944. Livy awoke at 9:15. She’d overslept. Her father would have left the house already. Rev Dunne had busy long days attending to church meetings, and breakfast and supper time were usually the only times they could discuss their plans for the day. Livy didn’t feel well. It was an unusual feeling, so she just lay in bed thinking about what might be happening to her that was making her feel unwell.
As she lay there, her thoughts drifted back to the fall of 1943. Her mother had become ill, and was diagnosed with cancer. It was early October, and Livy had just started a semester at the University of Denver. She was taking a full load of graduate classes in archeology. She loved the program and was already deeply into the classes, reading her books, going to the library, doing the research for her thesis and loving every minute of it.
When she arrived home one cool afternoon in early October, her parents were sitting in her father’s home office. As she took off her coat and hung it up in the hall closet she could hear her mother sniffing, and her father talking to her. As she was about to pass the door, her mother called to her. Livy went into the office. There was great concern on their faces. Alarmed Livy asked, ‘What’s wrong?’
Her father said, ‘Your mother has been diagnosed with cancer.’
Before he could say more, Livy gasped and ran to her mother. She sat down beside her and put her arm around her at which her mother said, ‘Livy, it’s all right. I’ve had a wonderful life, and maybe its God’s will that I’m,’ and here her voice trailed off.
Again Livy’s father was speaking, ‘Livy, since Abby is married, your mother and I have been talking about you quitting your studies and staying home to look after her.’
Livy reeled at the thought of quitting university. She loved her mother very much, but giving up her education would the last thing on her mother’s mind. Without any words being said, she knew her father put more value in a woman marrying well than going to university. Her mother protested and said, ‘Really, the housekeeper is here every day, surely she can attend to my needs.’
Rev Dunne said sternly, ‘Nonsense! She has enough to do! Livy, you will quit your studies immediately, and stay home to look after your mother.’ Livy knew well enough not to cross her father, he could be very firm with his women folk. At her mother’s insistence, and over Rev Dunne’s protestations, Livy dropped her morning classes, and kept up with her two afternoon classes for the fall term. This arrangement worked out well for both mother and daughter because Mrs Dunne usually slept in the afternoon.
By December they knew that Mrs Dunne was too ill to be left alone, so Livy would not be able to continue her course work in January. Livy looked after her mother around the clock after that. Toward the end of her life, her mother was only awake a few minutes a day, and Livy missed her so much. She died in early February. Livy was beside herself with grief. Even though she knew her mother was dying, it still came almost as a shock to her.
Livy’s support system was gone. She had spent many happy hours beside her mother in the garden listening to her stories, and learning about looking after the vegetable garden and her beloved flowers. Her mother had encouraged her to go to university, and then graduate school. She wanted her daughters to have the opportunity of post secondary education, something she wished she had been able to do.
By early March Livy’s friend Dot started to encourage her to go out, but Livy protested. Since she had not been able to enroll at the university in early January, time hung heavy on her hands during February and March. She usually just moped around the house, missing her mother.
Finally in late March, at Dot’s urging, Livy accepted an invitation to volunteer at a dance for the enlisted men. That’s where she met and fell for Edward. He was on furlough, and was an air force training officer at Corpus Christi. She was startled that he would even notice her because she thought her friend Dot was more outgoing, and much prettier. But he singled her out, and they danced, and then spent the next couple of days together, culminating in their sleeping together the night before he went back to the base. Livy had had a few boyfriends, but no one affected her like Edward. He literally swept her off her feet and encouraged her to do things she’d never done with a man before. She thought he loved her. Why else would he make love to her? She said she’d write to him. He said he didn’t know where he would be, and was not much of a letter writer anyway.
Livy’s period was late. It was almost the end of April, but she was not worried. She knew from past experience that there were several factors that could delay her cycle, and stress was one of them. This often happened around exam time, and from the stress of taking care of her mother, and then her mother’s recent death.
Her cycle still had not happened by early May, and now Livy was getting worried. By late May she was beginning to suspect that she might be pregnant. There were a few noticeable body changes, and still no period. Since she was always quite slim, she noticed a slight thickening around her waist and abdomen, food cravings, tiredness, and mood swings.
Many nights Livy cried herself to sleep, and often woke up in the middle of the night from terrible nightmares, and crying out for her momma. Her mother, the person who had been her rock, her best supporter was not here to advise her, to help her, to comfort her. She wished that her mother was here. She would know what to do.