"PAIN AND GLORY" In every family there is a “good” and a “not so good”; a “nice” and a “not so nice” child. This does not mean that the terms “not so good” and “not so nice” are negative. It means not as “good” as “good”, if that makes any sense. My creative word is “Pain” which is what I nicknamed my oldest daughter, Nanette; and “Glory” which I attached to my youngest daughter, Terene.
Nanette (a.k.a. Pain)
Nanette was an aggressive child since the day she was born. She confused the doctors before she came into the world. For one full day, the doctors could not detect a heartbeat. We were delirious! Finally, later that night, she decided to let everyone know she was all right and turned her body around. The doctors thought it was a miracle. I had a feeling it was the beginning of many antics from my beautiful baby. I had emergency surgery (C-Section) once the doctors heard the heartbeat. That is another story.
She was the only child for three years, and only a few months old when my husband (Nathaniel) was inducted in the army. He adored her and so did everyone else. The kid walked at eight months because she was tired of scooting; started talking soon afterwards, not complete sentences but enough to tell you what she wanted. I think she potty trained herself. I remember one day while reading a story to her; she got up lumbered over to the potty and sat down. She didn’t bother to pull the training pants off she just did her business. I was amazed! She got up and said: “See, mummy!” I nodded my head as tears formed in my eyes. Then, she looked at me and said: “Wha’s the matter, mummy? Do you have to go to the potty?” It was very difficult to keep a straight face. I nodded my head once again then continued with the story.
After Nate was inducted, Nanette and I moved in with my parents. It was easier because I was working and had a live in babysitter. My mother-in-law also helped a great deal. Nanette knew how to romance both of them. I was the only one she didn’t try her shenanigans on. She always wanted to be the “boss” from the time she could smile until now. I must say, she was overly protective of me. She would peep through the window when she thought it was time for me to come home and then run out to meet me; never allowing anyone else to give me special attention. She was the only one with that privilege.
At the age of two, I felt it was time for her to meet and play with other kids. Mom and Mother Gage were not challenging enough for her. She supervised the two adults. When I walked in the house, she reported on the bad things they did. The young lady was hilarious. The two grown ups would look absolutely amazed and never corrected her. Yep, I thought, it was time for her to meet children her age. I enrolled her in Nursery School. She was absolutely ecstatic. She was picked up by a bus service and had captured Mr. Moore’s heart after the third day; and running the school after a week.
A few months later, Nathaniel was wounded and after a short stay in Veteran’ s Hospital he was sent home. Prior to his arrival, I to explained the situation to Nanette and she assured me she would take care of him. Truer words were never spoken. They fell in love all over again when he got home. She didn’t want to continue attending Nursery School because she wanted to take care of her daddy. The two of them talked, like adults and reached an agreement. She did take over, attending her father, when she got home. It was a delightful sight because after a few days, Nate felt like the child. We would laugh about it after she was asleep.
Four months after Nate was home, I discovered I was pregnant. I had mixed emotions about the pregnancy because of Nate’s illness. After a lengthy discussion, we decided to make the announcement, first to Nanette and then to the rest of the family. When we told Nanette, the only thing she understood was that she would have a sister. She didn’t bother to say “or brother”. Having a brother was not what she wanted. God was listening to her because a brother was not what she got.
The next few months were traumatic. I was having problems with the pregnancy plus Nate had gotten worse and had to be rushed to the hospital. I took my pregnancy leave early because I wanted to help Nate as much as possible even though he was hospitalized. Needless to say, he lasted three months after Terene was born. She was born on January 31, 1953 and he passed away April 19, 1953. Those were difficult times for all of us, including Nanette. She became the mother to Terri (her nickname). At least, that’s what she told everyone. I had to talk to her about her father and what happened. She understood. It was a quiet burial, so I left the two babies’ home.
Glory (a.k.a. Terene)
Terene was absolutely no problem entering the world. I had to have another C-Section. She only whimpered a bit when Dr. Walters slapped her on the behind. Terri was a good baby and awed by Nanette. She would just lie in her crib and watch her while being entertained. Terri had eyes that covered her face. When she smiled it gave the appearance that her eyes and lips were meeting. Nanette loved to see her laugh so she always did funny things to her.
Once again, Nanette did not want to go to Nursery School because she wanted to take care of her baby sister. I had to explain why it was good for her to go and that satisfied her for a while. She was also enrolled in dancing school, which made her happy. She came home after class and performed for her baby sister.
Nanette was in constant motion, Terri in constant awe! The rest of us were sorta in between. Days and years flew by. Soon Terri was in Nursery school. She was enrolled in dancing school but did not like it. She wanted to learn to read. So, I started reading more to her and giving her some training. Nanette had started reading a bit, so she would help out. We often noticed Terri lumbering toward the bookshelf and picking out one of her favorite books. She would just turn the page and look until she learned to read them.
Terri was also compassionate but in a more subdued manner. As she became older, if she saw anyone or anything in trouble, she would immediately go to their rescue. Animals loved her…all kinds. That was the strangest thing to me. When she learned how to walk and we walked to the store, if there was an animal of any kind, it would follow her. When this first happened, it frightened me, but Terri was never afraid. She would laugh and talk to them. Of course, I thought she was strange, but in a different way. I was beginning to develop a complex.
When I took her to the Pediatrician and expressed my concerns, she made me feel like an idiot. She laughed and said: “What’s the matter? Do you think she might be the female version of Christ”? I really didn’t think that statement was funny, but I did feel a little foolish. So, I never mentioned it again.
Later, when she was enrolled in Kindergarten, her teacher told me that I should have Terri tested because she thought she was a gifted child. I had no idea what was meant by “gifted” and when she explained some of the things Terri did in school, I was amazed. She was active at home, but because Nanette was always the bubbly, active one she received most of the attention both positive and negative. While she was talking I remembered something that Terri did and made no comment. Nanette and I were sitting at the kitchen table after dinner. Terri got up and sat down with the dog, Duke. She started telling him a story. I was listening to the two of them, so I didn’t get all she was saying. It didn’t really sound like much, but when I looked down at her, she was reading. I did not check to see if she was actually reading the words or just make believing. I let it pass. Mrs. Grayson said that Terri read a story to the class. She said it was slow, but in kindergarten that was pretty good. She gave me the name and place where I could have her tested. I did not follow through on it. I was afraid. I think it’s because my sister was gifted and had a lot of trouble in school because she was bored. That, too, is another story.
As time passed, Terri skipped a couple of grades and graduated a year after Nanette. They were both smart in school and had no problems. Nanette was overprotective of Terri, which annoyed her. It didn’t stop Nanette. Nanette was overprotective of me, which annoyed me; but I understood.
Sometimes I became very remorse and would go to my bedroom and have a good cry. I tried to hide these emotions from the children; but, one day Terri came into my room without knocking and I was talking and crying and just letting it all out. She approached me very slowly, putting her arms around me and said: “Grandma says it’s okay to cry, mummy. She says everyone cries sometimes. I won’t tell anybody, k?” Then, she asks if I would like her to read me a story. My heart started palpitating and all I could do was stare…words would not come out. I thought, this is my baby talking to me! She is so grown up!
Believe it or not, as time passed and the children grew, I found myself always confiding in Terri. It was never anything too personal during those times; but she always helped me see things differently. Nanette always told everyone what to do! The difference being, one who thinks before she speaks and the other, speaks before she thinks. I started calling them Pain and Glory from that day forward. They compliment one another and are good for me.
Pain is still trying to tell me what to do with my life at the age of 66. Glory is still listening and giving no advice at all.
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