There’s so much in the news that sometimes we miss human interest stories that are both heartrending and encouraging.
Some years ago a story came to my attention about a sixteen year old girl who became pregnant out of wedlock though she was, in fact, engaged. Early engagement is not as uncommon as one might think. In fact, my great-great grandmother Sally Foster Rainey was only sixteen when she married. Many of us can remember when pregnancy without accompaniment of a legal spouse was scandalous.
Joe, the young mother’s fiancé, knew he hadn’t gotten his girlfriend pregnant (he was a religious type). Quite understandably, he found it difficult to trust the girl after her impregnation. Although Joe loved the girl, he was reluctant to go ahead with the marriage and have his friends call him a fool – or worse, call the baby a “bastard.” That’s a “fighting word” even in the anything-goes-world of 2006.
It’s possible some of Joe’s friends may have wished that the girl would “take care” of the situation by eliminating the problem pregnancy – but there’s no record of such a thing and, if they did, no one admitted it.
Like anyone with a modicum of common sense, Joe went to a trustworthy counselor for guidance. Because of his confidence in the couple, the counselor advised Joe to go ahead and marry the girl. After the marriage, the newlyweds took a lot of static from busybodies, not to mention the religious right crowd. And that was just the beginning of the troubles.
At the worst possible time, in the middle of a trip out of town, Joe’s wife decided to deliver. It was the Christmas season, and almost every place in town was booked up. Finally, the couple was able to check into a dumpy accommodation at a roadside lodge – just before the baby was born. By the Grace of God, both mother and child came through the crisis unscathed, even though a doctor wasn't there to help. Even so, the family remained in desperate circumstances, although some other travelers heard about the situation and brought some gifts.
Trouble followed trouble – that sometimes happens when a child gives birth to a child. The family got in trouble with the government, and had to cross a state line to evade arrest. But later on, when the situation cooled down, Joe was able to move his family back home. Things started looking up.
The baby grew into a young man, home schooled in his father’s trade. But his son had other things on his mind. That set the stage for problems with the educational establishment who determined the young man was not “politically correct” and acted, in their opinion, as if he knew more than his teachers.
The young man was perceived to be a religious radical. Not only that, he became the leader of a gang of other like-minded men, causing one disturbance after another – once even on church property! Mainline religious groups took legal action, and an arrest warrant was issued for a trumped up capital charge, and he was arrested after one of his own gang snitched on him. Justice did not prevail. He had no friends in court, and no high paid lawyers, which is the usual case for poor folks. At what appeared at the time to be the end of the case, a summary execution was carried out in a cruel but not unusual manner.
As for his mother, her marriage was very successful. She gained renown for good parenting skills, and became a role model in responsible women’s movements.
The moral is: unplanned pregnancies sometimes bring unanticipated good results. And that’s just the beginning of the story. The BEST is yet to come!
Best wishes for a Blessed Christmas, Holy Season, and a Happy New Year!
Note: At one time I wrote a weekly column called “Irregular Commentary” for the Valley Times Newspaper in Moreno Valley, California. The above story was modified from my December 17, 1992 column in that paper.