It was a dark and stormy time in 1943 when Arnie was spending his first year in the U.S. Army, preparing to go to the European Theater of Operations for three years.
My father had gotten a new job in New York City and I moved there to live with him and my mother until Arnie returned. Our first child decided to come on Oct. 2, 1943.I was not prepared for any of the above events but was thrilled and welcomed Madelaine Ellen Mitchel. We formed a bond that would last until March 19, 2007.
It was as tight a mother-daughter relationship imaginable due to the circumstances.The only apartment we could find that would accommodate us during wartime was not safe for a healthy, rambunctious baby as she started to walk and get into anything an infant would fit into. We were on the sixth floor, with windows fashionably designed to reach from floor to ceiling, requiring her to be in my eyesight every minute except when she was sleeping.
She matured well until she was older than 2, when she was introduced to a soldier named "daddy, " whose photo she had been saying good night to all her previous life. We encountered dissonance because both of them were accustomed to my full attention and unwilling to listen to reason about sharing.
Finally, when Arnie became a civilian again and the world was at peace, we were at peace. We settled in Dover, N.J., where Arnie's parents lived. We could only afford a tenement apartment, which became our nest until our second child, Mark, was born. He died before he was 3 months old of sudden infant death syndrome.
When Maddy was 5, on her first day of school, she came home to find I had presented her with another brother, Jeff, whom she didn't welcome for many years until in adulthood, when they became very close.Away to college she went at Ohio State University in Columbus for Term 1. She didn't fare well so came home to University of Cincinnati, where she graduated with her newfound love, soon to become her husband, Ronald Miller.Then, after their first child arrived, we broke up the family.
They went to New York state to do Ron's medical residency, Jeff went to college in Pennsylvania, and Arnie and I came to Florida to start a new washer-dryer business in apartment houses.Maddy and Ron moved back to Ohio as their children were growing so we got to see them occasionally. Too little, about once or twice a year. But they developed well and from those little buds blossomed beautiful flowers, adding five great-grandchildren to the family.
Maddy stopped working, and they moved to Cincinnati, five minutes away from their offspring. And once again they became a big, happy family. It's notable that Maddy arranged to give up her job, which didn't intrigue her as much as her grandkids did.Her dad, Arnie, and I felt the same way about Maddy and her life.
We had nothing but pride in all her endeavors and were pleased to see her find her niche in her family.Maddy was diagnosed with lung cancer five years ago and was subjected to surgery, chemotherapy, radiation and other treatments and medication in an effort to divest her of the disease.I went into denial until March 19, when she asked to end her bravery and suffering by going into hospice, where she died the day she started in the program.I'm facing reality now, having witnessed her burial . . . forever.Goodbye, my darling daughter Madelaine.