Smiles through the tears

A photo, above, of Carlos’ first mocassins. I couldn’t afford to have them bronzed, as most parents did in those days, but I have managed to save them anyway!
The following is the story of the birth of my son Carlos. It is also the story of how smiles can transcend generations and even generations of friends!

DayOfBirth

This photo was taken approximately 7 hours after Carlos’ birth. The lady who took the picture came to me to offer to do a retake as it was hospital policy to wait 24 hours. Seeing the image, I refused! My baby was wide awake and aware of his surroundings; it was a perfect photo!
On April 12, 1976, at 2:37 A.M. I gave birth to a beautiful baby boy. 8 pounds 3 ounces and the picture of perfect health! To this day I love to call my son at 2:37 on the morning of his birthday to remind him, “Do you know I was in labour for 56 and ½ hours for you!”
I love to recount the part about the late Pearl Stanley. She owned, along with her husband Alex, Windsor’s first fully inclusive bar called Stanley’s Tavern.
PEARL AND ALEX STANLEY
The Stanley’s believed that all people were created equal and they were pioneers who demanded inclusiveness regardless of race, colour, gender identity, sex, sexual orientation, disability, creed, age and other grounds. The Ontario’s Human Rights Code first written June 15, 1962, and it was their mantra!
I had lain in bed for some hours with the intermittent pains telling me my baby, in no uncertain terms, wanted out! I’d tried sitting on the sofa and found it too uncomfortable.
Neither position was offering me any comfort, so I chose instead to get up, get dressed and head to Stanley’s. I knew my sister Debbie would most likely be there with her boyfriend Kirk, and even if she weren’t there, I would find the company of others I knew.
Pearl, learning I was in labour, came over to my table and pleaded with me to leave. She was horrified I would have the baby there, and she didn’t want that to happen. I assured her I would most certainly go if the pains came closer together. Eventually, it was time for me to call a taxi; however, Pearl insisted the fare was her expense.
During my labour, a Roman Catholic Children’s Aid worker had shown up at my bedside demanding I sign the baby over to them. After all, she said, I was a single mother. I’d asked her what made her think I couldn’t raise my child and her answering question was dumbfounding, yet so typical CAS worker mentality, “We raised you didn’t we?”
Fortunately my family doctor, Alphonse Leblanc booted the CAS worker out of the hospital. I was very fortunate to have his support. I had worked hard throughout my pregnancy to ensure my baby would be healthy. I think my doctor had even been more than a little stressed as I was at his office so often! He and his staff were always kind though. Knowing I did not have guidance and support of parents and family, he and his team were exceptionally kind.
One full hour after Carlos’ birth a nurse finally came to place my baby in my arms. It had taken that long for them to tend to me and suture the rips to my uterus and vagina. The nurse told me they wanted to be sure I was physically able for them to leave the baby with me.
My family doctor would later tell me that although I had the external body of a girl age 19 internally, my reproductive organs were that of a girl 12 or 13.
That same nurse who brought my baby to me was offended and demanded to know why when I asked her to help me take off all the baby buntings and blankets. I showed her my hands and welcomed her to look at my misshapen left foot. His dad had been sure my disabilities and imperfections would be passed down to the child.
Carlos was perfect! His hands and feet were adorable! The nurse seemed to finally comprehend and smiling she helped me to wrap him back in the bunting. As she tucked in one of his tiny arms, I saw a baby bracelet on his arm. It was made of beaded letters and read, “Zebic”.
The nurse told me volunteers created the bracelet for each newborn and I treasured that lovely gift until 1990 when a fool stole it from me! That is another of my stories of a man who convinced himself I had borne him a child. Nonsense, I was gifted with my one and only child Carlos!

IMG_7367

Inside one of the moccasins, I was elated to find my hospital armband!
This morning I was blessed with the following conversation on Facebook. The post brought tears to my eyes, and a slide show of memories flowed through my spirit. I saw myself smiling as I held my baby for the first time, as I saw my baby smile back at me (the nurses tried to convince me the baby was “passing gas” but I didn’t believe them – glittering blue eyes always accompanied the smile!)
I saw my son learning to crawl, walk, spell his first words, graduate from primary school, display his first pay cheque, show me his ticket bound for his new life in Toronto, his business cards from places of employment and his graduation for his Master’s Degree in a new field of psychology – Drama Therapy.
The slideshow was a thing of pure beauty. A gift of smiles through the tears and wondrous time of reliving so many treasured moments!
Today, two days before Carlos’ actual birthday this Facebook Messenger conversation took place:

Alyssa&Lyla

Alyssa & Lyla

Alyssa to me – “Hi, Christine! It’s Alyssa; I’m an old friend of your darling son. (Although Carlos, I’m a YOUNGER old friend– you have me beat by 2.5 months ).
Christine, many years ago Carlos lovingly told me how, when he was a boy, every time his mom would look over at him and catch his eye, she’d always smile. Always.
I promised myself if I ever became a mom,
I’d be like Carlos’s Mom. Like you. That every time my child looked at me, I’d smile.
In January, I became a mom. I feel so blessed; she’s my little miracle. And now I finally have my chance to be like Carlos’s Mom. So every time my little darling looks at me, I smile. Now I realize, it’s hard not to!! Especially with such cute offspring as yours and mine.  I just wanted you to know, on your son’s milestone birthday, you inspired me, and now my daughter has you to thank as well for leaving such an imprint on me. And most importantly, your son!
Happy 40th (how did that happen to us?!) Carlos! Love you!
And HBD2U2, Ms. Wilson. Thank you for making him.
Love,Alyssa (and Lyla!) XOXOXOXO”

Carlos

Carlos’ 4oth birthday party

Carlos to Alyssa – “This was the single most beautiful, tear-jerking message that I’ve ever received!!! I’m a bit intoxicated right now, so I pray that my response does justice to how I feel reading this. Alyssa, the fact that you honoured the story of my beautiful, wonderful mom smiling at me with the story of how you relate to your own beautiful, wonderful child, makes me feel that everything is ok in this world and that love and kindness will prevail. We must celebrate how we pass on love and kindness and never be afraid to smile with all our hearts. I love you ladies XOXO.”
Alyssa to Carlos – “Love you, Carlos! You didn’t need to do it any justice. But thank you, that’s so lovely.
See, your mom did good! Hopefully, you can meet the little one soon. Xoxo
Here’s my attempt to do a photo shoot with Lyla on her 3rd month birthday which was on Thurs:”

Pink

Pretty in Pink – literally!

Alyssa to Carlos – “Next time I should leave it to the professionals… That was a cupcake as a bday prop, then Lyla managed to stick both her heels in it (I still ate it after. Ha!)”
Me to Alyssa – “Layla is beautiful just like her mama! Wow, talk about making me feel like I’m walking on a cloud and good thing it’s on a cloud and not on the road because tears are filling my eyes so I won’t have to worry about dodging traffic!
Can I include this conversation on my blog today? If both of you are okay with that? Please let me know. Thanks!”
Alyssa to me – “Aw! That’s so sweet, Christine. That’s fine with me.”
© 2016 Zora Zebic

 

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