He didn’t know I was pregnant. There it is. My parents worry far too much. Rob left for boot camp in November, 1983. He belonged to the US Army. I had left school and had no income. Rob came home for Christmas, we were 3 hours late for his mom’s New Year’s day party and hello Shannon who was born exactly 9 months after New Year’s day.
Back to my parents worry too much. Rob had pretty much gone straight from college graduation to boot camp for ROTC, so no job. I had recently quit school and wasn’t currently working. Why tell my parents that I’m pregnant when neither of us had a job and we didn’t have a plan?
I don’t really remember when we gave up the apartment in Bemidji but Rob and I knew our best chances, for me a job, for him a career, was in the Twin Cities area so I moved into my parents house and got a job at a bank in March of that year. Knew that most insurances don’t cover pre-existing conditions so hadn’t been to see an OBGYN before I landed the job and of course, didn’t happen to mention it during interviews…I know, imagine that. I think it was an entire month after getting the job before I went to an OBGYN and then feigned surprise to my co-workers when I announced that apparently I was pregnant.
Bob will normally guard a secret with his life. Backing up to February of that year, we had driven down to Rochester because he had a job interview. I had odd suspicions but didn’t think that I’d acted any differently. We were at some pub when I finally decided that I had to tell someone that I thought I was pregnant. My exact to words to Bob were “I’m going to tell you something and I don’t want you to tell anyone else”. His exact words to me were ” you’re pregnant, it’s a girl, you should name her Shannon”. Okay…1, that was weird and 2, no one knew I was pregnant except Rob and a girl I’d made a trip to Fort Leonard Wood with and 3, that is exactly how Shannon got her name.
So Bob knew, Rob knew and the girl I’d gone to Fort Leonard Wood with and I hadn’t wanted to tell anyone else until I had gotten a job or, worst scenario, Rob came back and had landed a job. How long would that take? Hard to hide things for very long. No need to worry parents about insurance and unemployment issues. Sometime in March though, I did tell Bern and absolutely swore her to secrecy. I could almost swear that it was the next night or so that we were all sitting down to dinner, my dad, my mom, Bernadette and Joe. I don’t think Bob was there. So anyway we must have been having burgers for dinner and my dad asked me to get him some cheese. Okay, went to the fridge, grabbed a Kraft’s single, opened it and walked back to my dad who was sitting down facing the other way. I was behind my dad, looking down at the top of his head with the single piece of cheese in my hand. It just occurred to me at that moment that this particular slice of cheese belonged on the bald spot on his head. So of course that IS where the cheese went. I slapped it on his bald spot. As much as it made sense to me, apparently it caught my dad off guard. I know, what’s up with that? He asked for cheese, he got it, what’s the issue? I may have been able to plead my case (that it was exactly where it belonged) if it hadn’t been for my mom, Joe and Bernadette who all first looked with amazement and then all laughed. My dad loves to laugh but I’m not so sure that he appreciates being the one who is laughed at. Yep, second thought, he does NOT like to be the one laughed at.
So there is it. Familiar family dinner scene on any random night…well except youngest daughter has slapped a slice of cheese on her father’s bald spot. That second part may not happen in a lot of suburban homes. Well if it does nobody’s sharing this info. Anyway, my dad who (I repeat myself) was 1st a tad surprised that I’ve presented him his slice of cheese on his bald spot and second noticed he was being laughed at decided he needed to do something to remedy both of these situations.
I think he asked me a question, probably asked why I had done that. I assured him that that was where the cheese belonged. He did take a moment to ponder my answer and then he took in the laughter of the others in the room. Pretty sure my answer made no sense to him and that he didn’t appreciate the laughter.
Twice in my life I’ve angered my dad. Both times I was a teen and both times I had dissed my mom. Right, especially the time I informed him that she wasn’t my mom, she was just his wife. Word to the wise, if your dad adores your mom…do not dis her to your dad. So the oncoming events of that particular evening were not out of anger. I don’t know anyone who loves fun more than me except my dad. Eh, and maybe Bob.
My dad oh-so-slowly, arose from his chair. Really, it was VERY slow. Had I wanted, I could have been out the door and returned after he went to bed. Nope, I stood there and watched this oh-so-slow rise from the chair. He faced me and I again told him that that was where the cheese was supposed to go “there was just that spot and it need to be covered”. Nah, he didn’t see it that way. I believe he told me that I was going to eat that cheese.
I don’t like cheese, never have. I’m the only one I know who doesn’t eat pizza. I would never voluntarily eat cheese. In a moment I was on the floor. My arms were pinned to the floor and my dad was sitting on my stomach. Kind of like I used to do to Joe when I’d let my dog lick his face. Actually my dad and I were having fun, I don’t believe we’d wrestled since I was six and I found out that professional wrestling was fake. He and I both knew there was going to be no cheese eating there and then and of course there wasn’t. Just threats and close encounters. Gotta tell ya though, the most fun was looking behind my dad and seeing my sister, Bernadette, going into convulsions while my dad was sitting on my stomach. She had sworn secrecy and there was my dad who may have been 225, 250 at the time sitting on my stomach and I was pregnant.
A month or so later I finally told my parents that I was pregnant, after I knew that insurance would cover everything and that I wouldn’t have to be an Army wife just to cover the cost. My mom was thrilled and my dad’s eyebrows rose quite a bit once they found out how far along I was. He does math. After assuring him that that night had no impact on expected baby, he was thrilled as well. Many stories of my dad calling me every day at work in the last two or three weeks of my pregnancy on the pretense of offering up baby names (like Prairie Chicken) but really to see if I was at work or not, not being that I’d be in hospital giving birth. Again, another story. I’d already told my parents that I wasn’t going to call when I went to the hospital, not till after the baby was born. He was checkin’.
We listened to Bob and named our daughter Shannon instead of my dad’s idea of Prairie Chicken. Shannon was born with no repercussions of my dad sitting on my stomach when I was 3 months pregnant with her and I get to hold dear the memory of Bernadette going into convulsions. Life is good.