Continued from Reno
Mother liked to brag that she’d been out dancing the night before contractions began. On December 23rd, Yry called a taxi for a ride to the hospital. I arrived the next day. The ranch provided supervision and care for Joan while mother convalesced impatiently in the hospital for a few days. When she arrived back at their room with me bundled in hospital togs, Joan was eager to see what manner of thing I would be. She gawked in wonder as she unraveled the layers of blankets and cotton wrappers that the hospital staff had diligently cossetted me in. Disrobed, I was a tiny, red, wrinkled raisin. Joan was a quick study with the diaper and eagerly took over Linda-watching. We were the hit of the ranch. Beautiful ladies popped in to baby-gaze and twittered amongst each other about that crazy woman who was exposing her poor child to frostbite, for heaven’s sake. Mom stubbornly insisted on setting the pram outside the front door with me perched atop a pile of blankets, rather than under them. “She needs vitamin D,” my mother asserted to the nay-sayers.So, I entered the scene, with a contrary mother and an eager big sister. Mom loved to brag that a week after I was born, she was back on the dance floor to ring in the new year. She left Joan to look after me—the first of many such occasions. After she left, one of the know-it-all-neighbor ladies—probably disappointed to be dateless on New Year’s Eve—popped in to check on things, convinced that a nine-year-old child was incapable of caring for a newborn. This well-meaning biddy wrapped me in swaddling till I was a boiling, screaming mass of messed diaper. Then she proceeded to change my diaper, a task which Joan had mastered on her third try. This lady was not the expert she thought she was and managed to get shit everywhere. By the time mom returned to our room in the wee hours of the morning, poor Joan was a nervous wreck and I was screaming bloody murder. A nice way to ring in 1953.
When I was a month old, Yry wrote her parents with detailed accounting of her finances and ending her letter with:
Well, this baby is an expensive item, more so than Joan. I hope she will be worth it. She’s a cute little tyke. Her face is getting sunburned. She’s awake, lying on my tummy sucking, squirming, and looking around. She must have gas. Love to you both, Yry & Linda
Mom lingered at the Palomino Ranch for three months. It was a blissful escape from the reality of life in New York. She received a steady stream of congratulatory cards and letters. One of her school chums offered wise consolation:
After two failed marriages I finally found Bob. If you can do as well as I did the third time it is worth it. Don’t feel too badly about the divorce. I’ll bet Joan likes riding and the west. She must be quite a young cowgirl now.
A note in Yry’s diary reveals that she was devouring a book by Joseph Wood Krutch. The opening pages of The Desert Year moved her deeply. She wrote that his words “illustrate what I felt when I first came to Wyoming and what I have felt all the time I was away and then felt anew with overpowering force when I returned to the west, this time to Nevada.”
She mourned the promise she’d made to return to New York. “It was so terribly hard to leave this second time after an almost ten-year absence, especially when I knew deep in my heart that I was returning to trouble and much difficulty.” She dreaded Sidney’s visits to a child he never wanted.