The Tomb of The Unknown Child

=I had just awakened around 7 a.m, and immediately past memories surfaced.  The one I least expected to recall was one instance in 1986 or '87 that I became my late mother's confidant.  My mother kept many more secrets than I once believed.  Being dubbed by my family as the wayward and disturbed child, the information I received from her was unexpected.  


To my mother--not to mention the rest of my family, I had been viewed only as a burden and she both physically and emotionally abused whenever it suited her fancy.  I will not go into details on this for now, except to say that this is why I was surprised when I sat down with her one day to talk.  I can't remember the original subject of discourse, but the conversation had turned into something very personal.  Perhaps I was mentioning the abortion I had in the fall of 1984, perhaps that started my mother on the subject; but I can't be sure.  I had at times wondered why her uterus was so messed up that she needed a partial hysterectomy in her early 40's.


I was about to be handed a plausible explanation for it.


We were seated somewhere in the kitchen area of my shoe box one-bedroom apartment, having a cup of coffee and sweets when my mother had disclosed to me the six back alley abortions she had experienced--and, before 1973, abortion was definitely back-alley and often proved fatal to a woman.  I can't recall what age she was when this happened, but I could see tears welling up in her eyes as she unveiled the one circumstance where my already unfavorable view of my late father advanced to one of total despisement.

My mother originally didn't want children, not for awhile; the very idea of contraception was frowned upon in her time.  She kept getting pregnant, but didn't have the slightest idea of how to stop it other than abstinence.  Not knowing what else to do and not wishing to withhold herself from the intimacy of my father, she sought medical advice and services of a physician who was willing to violate the law.  I believe she kept the same physician for all six procedures.  I can't remember by what method she aborted; probably a combination of some sort of pill or liquid concoction.  Upon abortion number six, however, the doctor put his foot down; he warned her that any further procedures could kill her, and that this one needed to be the last.  As far as I can remember, she took her physician's advice.  Only this time, my mother was in between her second and third trimester.  My father had by this time become quite angry with her.  Nevertheless, she had followed the doctor's instructions, took whatever poison he handed her, went home and waited for the fetus to abort.  Where she aborted the fetus I can't remember,; but when she did, she looked at it, and noticed that it was fully formed.  I can only imagine the mental and emotional torture she felt when encountering a dead baby that looked more human than all the other five fetuses.  


I don't know what sex it was, I can't remember what she said; but I think that the value of human life--or the loss of it became more clear to her at that moment.  She demonstrated this by wanting to give her aborted child a small burial service, private of course, in the backyard of my parents' home.  There was a small hill beyond their backyard which provided some privacy, and this was where she wanted to bury the child.  My father responded with laughter and rage all at once.  In a cold-blooded fashion, the monster that was my father took the baby from my mother, put it in a large shoe box, and threw it over the hill.


He thew my mother's dead baby over the hill.  Undeservedly, he died in his sleep circa 1970, three days before his 66th birthday.


YOU EVIL BASTARD!  I hope you're burning in Hell, "Dad."


My mother never spoke of this to me again.  Four or five years later, she died.


It  was late afternoon when I had written this close to ten years ago, and I had been puffing away at more cancer sticks than usual.  This would explain why my throat had felt rough, dry, and my sinuses stuffy.  Of course, I don't smoke now.  I don't know what else to say about this "secret."  Truly, my mother was stronger than what I once thought; even a half-assed psychiatrist would agree that any woman who's endured this brand of horror and kept it bottled inside of her would eventually snap. But I will go one step further:  I think the secret that she buried inside her for nearly three decades helped to bring her to an early grave.


Fran Hinkle

[Revised] 5/21/2019

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