A Mother to Embarrass Me

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Authors: Carol Lynch Williams
girl. I can take care of myself.”
    “Now, now,” Dad said again. He chugged up the stairs like a train. Mom was his weeping cargo.
    “He said that this could make the baby come early. She could be here too soon.”
    That's when Mom broke into such sobs that even my eyes got a little wet listening to her sadness.
    When Dad said, “Now, now,” the third time, I could hear how sad he was too. Maybe Mom would be great in a commercial. I mean, she was making us all sad, and over bed rest, for heaven's sake.
    “Danny,” she said. Her words were a little mumbled because her face was pressed into his neck. “I couldn't stand to lose this baby. I've been feeling her move for so many months now. I couldn't stand it.”
    “Don't talk that way,” Dad said. “Kyra's going to be just fine.”
    Kyra
, I thought.
They already named her?
Somehow the name made this unborn baby even more real in my mind. Sure, I had seen her image in the ultrasound. I had also seen her moving in my mother, rolling. Seen what Mom said was an elbow or a foot, pushing like it wanted freedom. But I hadn't realized they had chosen a name for my sister.
    “Five babies dead is too many already,” Mom said. “This one
has
to live.”
    “Don't say that,” Dad said. “The doctor said bed rest, so that's what we'll do. You have just a few weeks before your due date. Kyra can be born at any time and be just fine.”
    Down the hall we went, me following behind my parents, so that I almost stepped on Dad's heels.
    “Laura,” Dad said when he had settled Mom on the bed. “Go get your mother her pajamas.”
    I hurried to Mom's tall bureau and pulled open her pajama drawer. Mom has a million nighties. She says she inherited her love of night-clothes from the grandmother she was named after, Jimmey Doris. Only, Mom's name is just plain Jimmey. I never met this grandmother, because she died before I was born, but I can't imagine that she had the pajama collection my mother has. Some are flannel things with feet, some are long, silky things with lots of lace, some are just plain cotton with pictures of Winnie-the-Pooh or Peter Rabbit.
    “What do you want?” I asked her.
    Dad had removed the Elmo slippers and was rubbing Mom's feet. She sniffed now, using the corner of the pale yellow sheet to dab at her nose.
    “My Anne Geddes,” she said.
    I dug through the nightgowns until I found one that was a creamy blue color. On the frontwas a picture of three babies with purple flowers on their heads. Two grinned and one looked like she had just gotten through crying.
    I took the clothing over to Mom, and Dad helped her change. The whole time he talked to her in soothing tones, but I didn't really listen to him. I just thought of Mom, and all those babies she had lost and how I had seen baby Kyra myself in that picture so long ago.
    “Laura,” Mom said.
    I came over next to the bed and stood near her.
    “Laurie,” she said. “I love you so much.” She started crying again.
    To my surprise, I started crying too. I grabbed hold of her hand and brought it to my cheek. “I love you, Mom. I do.”
    I knew right then that those words couldn't be truer. So what if she shouted crazy words in the car? So what even about the Elmo slippers and working in pajamas? So what about her public singing and dancing? Mom had to be one of the best people I knew.
    It was two weeks later that Mom got the phone call. I was in bed, asleep, when her scream awakened me.
    “Baby's coming,” I said. I leapt to my feet, still asleep really, and tried to hurry down the hall toward my parents' room. Somehow my feet gottangled in my bedsheet like it had become rope. My attempt to run nearly killed me. Only the top half of me moved and the movement was in a downward motion. I just missed crashing into my desk.
    Mom screamed again.
    “I'm coming,” I hollered. My heart pounded in my ears and for a moment I thought I might faint for real. I clawed at the carpet and half crawled toward the

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