From the minute Heather was born she enchanted her admirers. She weighed in at a hefty 9 lbs 7.5 ounces and 21 inches long. I’m sure that the good start she had in life was a contributing factor for all the strangers who would stop to ooh and aah over “what a beautiful baby she is.” After all, dimpled fleshed out babies look so cherubic with their plump rosy cheeks and chunky limbs. There was no doubt she was a cutie. Indeed, many strangers suggested we enter her in baby contests because she was so cute. Her blonde hair and brilliant blue eyes never failed to charm all those around. But let me assure you—despite her fair looks Heather had a decidedly darker side.
She was a stubborn little girl who was determined to do things her way. When it appeared that wasn’t going to happen she would thrust out her lower lip in a pout and scowl that would scare the toughest set of parents. Even at a very tender age of 6 weeks she would hold her breath and turn a tinge of blue in temper tantrums that scared me to death despite the doctor’s reassurance that she would pass out before she’d pass away. As she grew older this stubborn trait of hers manifested itself in various ways.
One time when told “no” she stamped her little feet in a fit of rage—each step taking her backwards and closer to the basement stairs just behind her. Before I could stop her little fit of rage and safely grab her she tumbled down the stairs. Undaunted she picked herself up and barely missed a beat or breath between her cries of fright and her howls of anger.
The older Heather grew the stronger the bond also grew between her and her daddy. There was no doubt it was a mutual love fest. A few months before her brother Danny was born we moved into an older two story house just a short distance from the primary school were her father was the principal. Her father, who had studied in France during his college years and was a true Francophile, would walk hand in hand with her up and down the stairs counting each step in French. “Un, duex, trios, quatre, cinq,…..quinze, seize, dix-sept, dix-huit, dix-neuf.” Heather learned to count to 19 in French quicker than she did in English. This began a mutual love of French that grew as she grew until many years later she would go and spend a year at the same school in France where her father had studied decades earlier.
When heather was just 19 months old her status as a single child was soon going to change. School was ready to start and Mommy and Daddy were busy working at the school getting things ready to start the new school year. One of the things Bob was going to work on that momentous day was an electric plug that had shorted out the previous year and needed a new cover. Although it’s hard to remember exactly what distracted both her parents our attention was abruptly brought back to the moment the minute Heather began screaming in fright and pain as she pulled her tiny finger from the damaged socket.
One look made it clear to both of us that she had seriously burned her index finger on her right hand. We rushed to the emergency room that was bursting at the seams with women in labor and other untold urgent medical calamities. Heather was sat atop a gurney that was sitting in one of the busy corridors in the middle of all the hustle and bustle of the over-crowded facility. Hospital staff would stop in sympathy and gently coo to her “poor little thing—she’s so cute…” as little Heather would hold out her burned finger whispering to everyone passing her way in her frightened tiny voice “hot”. It was enough to break the heart of even the most hardened soldier.
We left several hours later with her hand swaddled in gauze and an appointment with a plastic surgeon and burn specialist the following week. Unbeknownst to us however, we wouldn’t make that appointment. A second rush to the hospital was in our future instead. So it was, several days later on the first day of school Danny decided it was time to welcome the world to baby number two. Little did Heather realize how her life was going to change. Indeed, little did mom and dad realize how their life was going to change too!