Remembering our first Hanuka

Our first Hanuka was a happy time. We had gotten married in July of 1966, honeymooned in Manhattan, seeing shows, enjoying the kosher restaurants, and then finally driving off to Kentucky where my husband was stationed. Once we found a home to rent, he went off each day to his job at Fort Knox and I drove in the opposite direction to finish my last year of college at the University of Louisville.

It was a happy life. I was twenty and the whole world was in front of me for the grabbing! I had survived my childhood with some of my ego intact, but this marriage was going to be something that I would help to create in a way that would nurture both of us.

We were, in a way, very alike. My husband had been the younger of two children. When he was 13, his 16 year old sister died of hepatitis. I had a sister who lived in Philadelphia. Aside from her, all we had were our parents. We were pretty much alone in the world.

Naturally, we wanted children. We wanted to fill our home with happy little voices. But I couldn’t believe that I would be lucky enough to be able to actually produce a child. My life hadn’t been charmed and I was kind of clumsy and awkward and never really trusted my body to know how to do the right thing. So, it was no surprise to me when one day in October I met my husband at the door with the two saddest words, “no baby.” It was only the first month we had tried, but it still hurt. I knew it would be the first of many many times.

So when my husband got the flu and then I did a few weeks later, I had no idea that there could be any good reason that my flu never really left. For days the nausea persisted and finally one Friday afternoon I went to a friend who was a doctor to ask him if he could give me some medication to get me through the weekend. He asked a lot of questions and responded that he thought I was probably pregnant. He told me that if nothing changed, I should go for a pregnancy test the following Wednesday.

This was in the olden days— before PCs, before cell phones, and worst of all, before home pregnancy tests. So early Wednesday morning, I took the specimen to the lab. I would have an answer after 3 in the afternoon.

At about 3:30 I was in my husband’s office and with a mix of excitement and apprehension I decided to call the clinic. The nurse looked for my results and said, “Your test was positive.” I said, “and that means?” and she said, “that you ARE!” and I said, “I am what?” Well, at this point she must have thought I was totally crazy, but it was good to hear from her the word “pregnant.”

My husband was teaching a Bar Mitzvah boy at the time, so it was only when he left that we had a chance to smile at our good news.

And then we drove home to light our first Hanuka candle together with hopes that next year we would be celebrating Hanuka with our much desired baby and from then on, we would never feel lonely again.

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  1. I learn new things about you everyday from your blog. It is really a privilege to be a part of your life and your thoughts from afar. I never perceived you as awkward – just challenged by your family experiences. I am glad that you have found such happiness over the years with your husband and your family. Who would have thought such things lo those many years ago at Gratz lingering in the halls trying to attract boys.

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