Memories of a Son Gone Home

I originally posted on my expired Weebly website on January 2, 2017.

I am reposting this post because my writing has improved, and I have clarified some details better. Had my son lived, he would be fifty-seven today.

It rained today. We need rain, so I wasn’t concerned about it. However, it is also the birthday of my firstborn son. At 5:45 p.m., on a Sunday, my son was born on January 2, 1966 and I named him Tamboura, after the main character in the book “Drum.”

I remember that day very well. Since New Year’s Day, I had been in labor, but I didn’t know I was in labor. I thought I was having strong cramps and thought no more about it. Accept, I wanted the pain to stop because they were uncomfortable.

The following day, the cramps were more robust, and I even went to the restroom, thinking I needed to push things out. The doctors later told me I was lucky it wasn’t time for the baby to come because my son was attempting to make his interest in the world. He was trying to push his way into the world, and I thought I needed to use the restroom. He could have been born in the toilet. Thankfully that didn’t happen.

My son was born about a half-hour after I got to the hospital. The doctor didn’t check me because this was my first pregnancy; they thought I had hours to go. I was parked and left to my own devices on a gurney in the hall.

Then it happened again. I needed to go to the restroom, and no one was around, so I tried to sit up to get off the gurney so I could find the facilities. A nurse passing by saw me attempting to get off the gurney and came rushing to stop me.

“Miss Rhodes, you need to stay on the gurney,” she said.

“If I don’t go to the restroom now, somebody is going to have a mess to clean up,” I said.

She helped me lay back down and moved me into a room to check on me.

“Oh! My God! The baby is coming! Whatever you do, don’t get off this gurney! I’ll be right back.”

She returned with a doctor and an intern. They checked me and told the nurse to get me to the delivery room. Now!

They barely had time to prepare me for the delivery before my son pushed his way into the world.

I was so proud when they told me I had a son. I knew it would be a boy. We had not had a boy born in the family for several years. I had eight sisters and two brothers between my mother and my dad in my immediate family. So, everyone was excited to have another boy in the family.

I almost died less than a week later because the intern left some afterbirth in me. I had started a fever but ignored it. I was so happy taking care of my son. I had decided to breastfeed him, and I loved the bond it created between us. I thought the fever would go away.

My mother knew something was wrong, and by Friday, I was burning up with a fever and felt worse. My brother-in-law brought my sister over to spend the day with us. Momma insisted my brother-in-law take us both to the hospital. We arrived about eight in the morning. I was directed to a waiting room and lay down on the bed. I either fell asleep or passed out because the next time I opened my eyes, my mother was sleeping in a chair beside my bed, and I could see it was dark outside.

My mother awakened, and I asked her what time it was, and she looked at the clock on the wall, and I did too, and the clock said 3:30, and because it was dark outside, I knew it was 3:30 a.m.

I asked what had happened and what was wrong with me. That was when I found out about the afterbirth. The next day, the doctor informed me that I was lucky my mother had insisted I return to the hospital. He said another day, and my family would have arranged for my funeral.

Over the next few days, they sat me in tubs of ice to break my still high fever. I went through that ritual twice a day for two or three days before my fever started to come down.

The doctors and nurses repeatedly reminded me how lucky I was that my mom got me to the hospital when she did. I was that close to not being here today. They had to perform a D and C to remove all the afterbirth tissue. It had set up an infection in my uterus. Thank God for mothers!

Twenty-three years and twenty-three days later, my son died in a car accident on his way to see his fiance. He was part of my life for twenty-three years and was a blessing to me and everyone he touched. He served five years in the military and planned to make it a career. I am so proud to have been his mother.

I have many memories of his growing-up years. He was always very competitive and a natural protector. At seven, he competed in a chess contest and won second place.

He played baseball, football, and basketball and ran track. He was very good at basketball. He was so good we all thought he would go for a basketball scholarship. He never missed a single day of school until after tryouts for basketball in his senior year.

The evening before, he was playing and somehow caused a hairline fracture in his big toe. The hospital put a cast on his foot and leg. He complained all the way home about missing basketball tryouts.

The next day, he insisted on going to school. However, I did not know that after school, he insisted on trying out for basketball. He said nothing to us about it. He assured us he was ok and his leg felt better.

The next day, the school called to say my son needed another cast on his leg. During the basketball tryouts, it seemed the cast had crumbled and cracked and needed to be replaced.

I was upset, but my son was happy because he made the team. That was the only day he missed part of a school day, and yes, he went to school the next day.

I called him a protector because he was always helping the kids that got picked on. Several times he went to parties where three or four girls came together to pick him up. When I asked why they picked him up instead of the other way around, he said he was their protector. No one mistreated or messed with them when he was with them.

I think of him often, especially when I see someone who resembles him or does something he did or like today, his birthday; he’s been on my mind all day. Therefore, I am writing about him. I was hoping it would ease the pain of his loss. It helps a little, and I must remember that even though he is no longer present with me, he lives in my heart and the hearts of all those who loved him.

He was well-liked, loved, and respected by so many people. He surprised us when he came home one day and said he had joined the Army and would go into training after graduation.

I asked why. My son said he wanted to protect the country and give back for all he had received by being a citizen. I could not have been prouder.

Rest in peace, my son. We will be reunited again someday.

Time for me to stop. I could go on forever talking about my son. What helped me get through his loss was the belief I would see him again someday, and I had three other sons who needed me to be strong for them. Maybe I will write about them one day. I am a blessed woman. I had four sons, and I am proud of them. They gave me fifteen grandchildren and, so far, seven great-grandchildren. God has blessed me as my son told me he would.

Until next time, stay safe, and keep the faith.

I tried to put the pictures in age order, but system did its own thing. This is my son, Tamboura.

4 thoughts on “Memories of a Son Gone Home

  1. I loved this, La Wanna. What a touching story. You were fortunate to have your precious son for 23 years. I had mine for 25. We only understand life completely by looking back. Keep writing!

Leave a Reply