日期:2009-08-18 14:51


UNIT 22 Come with Falling Snow

By the year my husband turned 40

and I hit the age of 35,
John's parents evidently were worried about us.
His older brother had produced three grandchildren.
So had his younger sister.
We had produced none.
For my in?laws, to love is to worry.
When John's parents visited us from New York,
his mother would get me alone and inquire delicately.
After a perfect summer seafood dinner at their beach house,
the same questions were fired at us.
They always made attempts to know our attitude.
Didn't we want kids?
Or was there a problem with our marriage?
John's father rarely said anything,
yet I knew that she spoke for both of them.
He was a retired ambassador
and he liked to call himself a cranky old man.
But I knew that he cared
and they fretted over us together.
By then we were wondering too.
In earlier years the pressure to procreate
had made us roll our eyes.
In our 20's and even into our 30's,
we were ambivalent about the whole idea of children.
We certainly didn't regard the decision
as anyone's business but our own.
Besides, what was the big deal?
His parents already had six grandchildren.
Why did they need more from us?
Then one day we realized that
we were real adults-old enough to be somebody's parents.
We had exceeded the age of youthfulness.
Suddenly we felt ready for a child.
As a baby became central to our hopes,
I better understood my in?laws' interference.
Now in their silver years,
they took the connection between their later years of life
and their children and grandchildren
for their greatest pleasure.
Our child would provide both us and them
with a lifeline to the future.
Yet to hope does not always mean receiving.
By the time I was 35,
John and I had been "trying" for three years,
however, I did not get pregnant.
It seemed that Mother Nature was displeased.
Our sex life became a lab experiment,
and our emotional life wavered monthly
between hidden optimism and ruined expectations.
Then finally, one day in January,
the pregnancy test turned pink.
John and I stared repeatedly
at the supernatural stick in excitement
and could not firmly believe.
Was this true?
Should we tell everyone?
We decided to tell his parents on February 15,
the day John's father would turn 70.
We were planning to surprise him
by going up a few days early
and to join the family for a birthday dinner
at an elegant New York City restaurant.
By then I would be six weeks pregnant.
What an idea it would be
to give him the ultimate gift-the news that,
at long last,
we would add a baby to the family.
We flew into Baltimore,
planning to drive to New York the next day
with John's sister and her family.
But nature was not cooperative.
That was the winter of 1960,
the year that broke records of snowfall on the East Coast.
A typhoon blew up then.
And the weather forecasts issued stern warnings
not to drive the next day.
We watched the news late into the night,
huddled beside the fireplace as the snow continued to fall.
Drinking hot tea and hot alcohol
we debated whether to drive out the next day.
Finally, we acceded to the decision
that the event meant too much not to gamble on it.
My brother-in-law, a can?do man
who inspires absolute confidence,
was cautious but willing to take the wheel.
The next morning
we loaded into their station wagon—four edgy adults,
three excited young boys and a golden retriever.
Then we spent eight tense hours
driving north on icyhighways in a whirling blizzard.
When we finally arrived that night,
the landscape of the outskirts of New York
had been transformed into a Nordic paradise.
John's father still had no idea we were coming.
Wrapped in a huge thermal coat,
John knocked on the front door.
"How hard it is snowing!" He said to his dad.
When his puzzled father finally recognized him
and ascertained what really happened,
he sank back into a chair.
How had we appeared from Texas
in the midst of a bleak snowstorm so fierce
that airports had canceled flights?
All of us thought that to make the old man stunned
and pleased was worth the freezing on the long journey.
We didn't make it into the city for our elegant dinner;
the roads and bridges were virtually inaccessible.
We ended up eating at a neighborhood Chinese restaurant.
Excited by our successful adventure,
we made a noisy festive party around the big familytable.
John and I exchanged a glance—now?
Then I respectfully presented his father
with a gift?wrapped box.
He opened it,
stared bewildered at our gift,
a baby doll in a fabric fashioned
from a Texas flag.
He held up the doll and kept saying
"Oh my God!" with watering blue eyes.
It traveled around the table,
everyone congratulated us.
The next morning,
I started to bleed and to feel pain.
Then to bleed more.
Both my sisters-in-law
had suffered troublesome pregnancies.
Late that afternoon they sat with me
and John in his boyhood bedroom
as we struggled to face the matter.
I found a spiritual comfort
from their concern and anxiety.
A call to my doctor confirmed the terrible truth:
I had probably had an abortion.
That night the eight adults went out
for a formal make?up birthday banquet at a restaurant.
The atmosphere was strange and bittersweet.
A 70th birthday celebration innately has a dark note;
to make a fuss of it is to acknowledge
that the life is finite.
Death may come at any hour.
Aching with cramps and grief,
I had wanted to stay home in bed.
The sufferings spoiled my appetite.
But John and his family
had insisted on my joining them,
and they were right.
Our communal dinner honored our father's long life.
We were family;
sharing great meals was our glue and our comfort.
We all drowned our complicated emotions
in the toasts to my father-in-law.
The weather cleared the next day,
and we flew home.
On the way to the airport,
I saw the doll lying abandoned
in the back of my sister-in-law's station wagon.
Its face smiled up at me mockingly.
Let them throw it out,I thought.
I wished we had never given my father-in-law
that absurd baby doll.
Back home, John and I were struck down
by the power of our grief.
Neither of us could drag ourselves to work.
We felt like a couple of baggage in a locker.
After we had tried so long and got pregnant,
the miscarriage was a tough, depressing loss.
And to have lost the pregnancy so publicly
made it even worse.
But once again,
nature surprised us.
Two months later,
almost by accident, I turned up pregnant—a miracle!
This time,we superstitiously kept the news to ourselves
for a full three months.
During those long days,
we barely even allowed ourselves to believe in the pregnancy.
If we had no expectations,
then maybe we couldn't be hurt.
But despite our fears,
this one was a keeper.
The little being inside me lived and blossomed,
grasped and kicked,
and together we grew into fullness.
On January 31,
our daughter,
Addie, was born.
When she emerged after a long, hard labor,
I asked for her to be placed skin-to-skin on my chest.
She felt warm and solid and delicious.
We gazed into each other's eyes
and I was instantly in love.
The many obstacles that John and I
had overcome made us go into raptures
over the birth of the little being.
Among our most joyous phone calls
was the one to his parents.
We did it! She's here! She's perfect!
The next morning,
when John's mother came down to breakfast,
she found the doll dressed in the Texas flag.
Unknown to us,
my old father-in-law
had kept the little darling dull tucked away for a year.
Before placing the doll next to his wife's plate,
he had taped a note to it.
It read "Hi, I'm Addie."
He understood what we did not:
life sometimes demands more patience than you can bear.
He hadn't given up hope.
Our happiness didn't come in the form we first expected,
but it was delivered just the same.
It rarely snows in Austin,Texas,
but on Addie's first birthday the sky turned gray,
then it snowed.
The city was in white.
I bundled up our sweet girl
and carried her outside so that she could feel
and taste the falling snow—
a rare birthday gift from nature.
We laughed as we caught snowflakes on our tongues.
I hadn't seen snow myself
since that East Coast storm two years before.
Then it had been accompanied by an emotional blizzard.
Now I watched it fall gently
as I cradled my giggling daughter in my arms.
I had learned a lot about love hope and being a family
in two years' time.
I tried to make out the intricate structure
of individual snowflakes, to capture their unique beauty.
But they melted on my hand.
So I gave up
and watched as they united into white drifts on our deck,
gathering like the fullness of our family's life.
  • crankyadj. 怪癖的,不稳的
  • displeasedadj. 不快的;生气的 v. 使…不快(displea
  • griefn. 悲痛,忧伤
  • spokev. 说,说话,演说
  • spiritualadj. 精神的,心灵的,与上帝有关的 n. (尤指美国
  • fabricn. 织物,结构,构造 vt. 构筑
  • blizzardn. 暴风雪 n. 暴雪 极负盛名的美国游戏软件制作公司
  • rareadj. 稀罕的,稀薄的,罕见的,珍贵的 adj. 煎得
  • gamblev. 赌博,投机,孤注一掷 n. 赌博,冒险
  • ambivalentadj. 矛盾的,摇摆不定的