Thursday, December 23, 2010

Pink Hats 18: Barbara Bush to the Rescue

Although some researchers suggest the development of short-term memory begins as early as the third trimester, the twins would probably never recall the wild ride along a country road culminating in their first flight and potentially fatal first landing. Being cuddled against a chest resonating with a male baritone softly singing slightly off-key renditions of Annie's Song and Poems, Prayers, and Promises, in lieu of Brahm's lullaby, was something else again. In the weeks they'd been residents at Hotel Maine Med, the twins had begun recognizing primary caregivers, especially Mr. Baritone and a certain Ms. Soprano, who sometimes came to see them alone, though more often, with him. It was the highlight of their day.

Being removed from the comfort and familiarity of the "Hotel," probably came as a bit of a shock, but they recovered nicely. Under Halley's supervision, and recalling his rudimentary attempts at parenting their own newborns, her husband, Ted, had transformed their guest room into an acceptable semblance of a nursery, complete with cribs, mobiles, and teddy bears, a lot of teddy bears. He admitted he'd overdone it at Toys R Us, but he had a good time and, besides, "Kids need lots of teddy bears," he said.

The project itself came about when Halley, cooing in his ear as if she was making him the kind of offer the manufacturers of Cialis dream about, explained, "DHHS has gotten involved with the twins." After letting the impact of her statement as well as it's tone, sink in, she continued, "Ordinarily, foster parenting -- close your mouth, big guy, before you hyperventilate -- requires six months of training, but someone, a very well-placed someone I'm told, in the hospital hierarchy intervened and we'll be allowed to foster the twins under supervision the first six months. So, we're golden, if you're willing, that" She punctuated her question by gently nuzzling his ear and following it with a suggestive wink. What Halley wanted, she usually got, and he was generally the happier for it. When her requests were framed like this one, he had no complaints whatsoever.

And he was happy, watching his new tenants drift off to sleep. "Ladies, you gonna love it here. Th' food's good, th' cook's pretty, and th' waitah, tha's me, he don' take no tips. Wheah you gonna find it bettah den dat? Doctahs Jessie and Bob'll be by to see you and life is gonna get real in-ter-estin' sooner'n you know." Ted was African-American but said of himself, "I'm a Black man from th' South Side of Chicago -- bein' Black was good enough in th' Hood and if folks don' think it's politically correct enough, tha's jes the way it is." He had a Master's Degree in English Literature from the University of Maine but prided himself in his ability to resort to ethnicity at will.

Ted was just out of high school when Uncle Sam decided it was time for him to do some serious growing up. He had been "in country" almost his entire tour before he and Halley were introduced one evening during the 1968 Tet Offensive, by an NVA bullet that entered his thigh along with 23 fragments of grenade shrapnel in various other places. She was working in a mobile surgical hospital and nearing the end of her first and only tour as well. They shipped out for the States together, him wearing a Purple Heart and Bronze Star, and she, his wedding ring. Their parents were upset -- it was 1968, after all, and racial tensions in America were running high. A mixed marriage between a White woman and a Black man would not be easily overlooked, but they threw caution to the wind and let love decide.

The way Halley put it to Ted, their approval as the twin's foster parents was a walk in the park. The truth was, the girls were dangerously close to being placed with strangers, reliable and trustworthy no doubt, but strangers nonetheless and Bob had very much hoped to keep things "in the family." Jessie got wind of their pending discharge first and sent Bob a page with the numbers 911 appended to it, which meant, drop everything and call me now.

He, in turn, once he'd gotten the 411 from Jessie, immediately paged the medical chief of staff and she arranged a STAT meeting between the two of them and the hospital CEO. After detailing Bob's plan to adopt, they reminded him of the generous public attention the hospital had received since the whole affair began. Local television stations covered the story, photos taken by the PR director regularly appeared in The Portland Press Herald, and even Barbara Bush, "W's" mother, had dropped by and had her picture taken with Bob, Jessie, and the twins -- as well as the CEO -- during a recent visit to the Barbara Bush Children's Hospital. A framed and autographed copy was sitting prominently on the his desk.

For his part, the CEO wasted no time in contacting DHHS; the results of the conversation were not especially satisfying. However, his next call to Kennebunkport, followed by Barbara's to Maine's Governor Baldacci, and then his to the Director of the Department of Health and Human Services, was, for some odd reason, more productive, and Halley and Ted received prompt approval. In addition, the adoption process, they were assured, while it must follow certain protocols, would go smoothly with absolutely no delays.

That same evening, following the twins' arrival at their new digs, Jessie and Bob came over to see them. "The way you looked at me, Bob, when ah took the girls from you, ah thought I's a goner," Ted said, joking.

"He's just a protective daddy-to-be," said Jessie, who was sitting in the rocker with one twin, and smiling affectionately at Bob, who was holding the other.

"Well, tha's all well an' good, cuz gals as purty as these two are gonna need lots o' protection when they hit sweet 16."

"And that's why he's got me," Jessie said, "to make sure the shotgun stays locked in the closet when boys come over!"

Bob smiled and said nothing, prompting Jessie to ask, "What is it, honey?"

"Oh, I was thinking about Barbara -- Barbara Bush to the rescue. She didn't have to go to bat for us, but she did and then insisted we send photos at Christmastime. She's quite a woman. I'm really touched."

"I feel the same way, but I've got a feeling something else is on your mind."

He was quiet for a second or two and said, ducking the teddy bear she playfully threw at his head, "Well...if only she was a Democrat."

(Creative Commons image by esther1616 via Flickr)

Enhanced by Zemanta
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...