Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen

Mother’s Day

In Guest stories, Keeping hope alive on May 9, 2013 at 6:26 pm

mother feet

May 1959 – I was in the delivery room in the final stages of childbirth, but I already knew the news. The baby was dead. Oh, they never use those words – they seem to have prearranged scripts that they recite with minor adjustments, to fit the individual circumstances. But faces tell it all, and with Dr. Breydart, that came across loud and clear – utter sadness, sympathy, and an underlying attitude, a belief in another human’s power to endure and overcome.

The doctor had plenty of practice in formulating her own beliefs. An underground antifascist in Nazi Germany, she’d supplied funds and messages to the French underground for years and managed a hectic mix of practicing medicine and serving as an international courier. When I first met her, she was a German refugee, the sole member of her family still alive. She and her husband, a member of the French underground, had been living in America since World War II ended.

But back to beginnings: Today was Mother’s Day – not a day I wanted to remember, but still, not one I was likely to forget.

My first words – loud and clear – “I never want to have a baby again.”

With that, Dr. Breydart removed a handsome silver brooch she was wearing, reached over and pinned it on my hospital gown, and said, “Remember this, Jane. This is the first Mother’s Day present you’ve ever gotten. You are a mother, you know. Peter is almost a year old now.”

Months later, she told me about the pin’s history. She’d been part of a wealthy family – all physicians – who’d lived in Germany some 400 years ago. Much of their wealth had gone into jewelry and art – most of which they’d converted to ash which had to be smuggled out to Resistance fighters. “God and diamonds had value. Not so with silver, so this one piece remained.”

I may have lost a baby long ago, but I found a piece of jewelry that wove together honest history and a genuine generosity which became a part of my life. It is still in my life, having now passed on to the blouse of yet another first-time Mother’s Day daughter-in-law, wife of my third-born son.

By Jane Hogg


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