Baby Daudi and big sister Naphia.

The Notorious Grandmother

Dorothy D. Bass
(c) Copyright 1998 by Dorothy D. Bass

The Announcement

The house was filled with relatives! The aroma consisting of onions being sauteed, fowls roasting in the oven and a warm cake resting on the butcher-block table, permeated the entire house. Laughter and chatting could be heard everywhere. A wonderful and joyous feeling encompassed the entire household. It was Thanksgiving Day, 1976!

Everyone was busy attending to their assigned duties when Terene and her husband, Bobby, meandered in the kitchen, very quietly. They had just arrived. Looking up I said: “My goodness, what happened to you two? I was becoming concerned.”

Terri, head inclined, said: “I wasn’t feeling well. We started not to come.”

Nanette (my oldest daughter) said, very concerned: “What’s wrong, Terri?”

Aunt Minnie (my mom’s oldest sister) rolled her eyes upward, both hands on her hips said: “She might be pregnant. She looks a little sickly to me.”

Everyone stood absolutely still, waiting for a response. Terri started to cry.

I said, very excited: “What’s the matter with her, Bobby?” Is it something very serious? Did you take her to a doctor?”

 Bobby said smiling: “Well, Aunt Minnie is right.” We are going to be parents in a few months. We found out Monday. We wanted to make the announcement today when everyone would be present.

 We all started yelling and hugging the expectant mother. While we were still laughing and talking about the news, Aunt Minnie took Terri by the arm and said: “Come on, Sweetie. Let me take you into the bedroom so you can lie down.”

 Of course, it goes without saying that this information was the highlight of our Thanksgiving Day!

The Next Six Months

This was not an easy pregnancy for Terri. She had problems from the very beginning. After six months, Terri decided to take a pregnancy leave from her job at Inland Steel in Riverdale, Illinois. The doctor thought it would be best. She was gaining weight very fast and it only added to her complications.

 Since she was home alone during the day, I kept in daily contact with her. I wanted to make sure she had everything she needed. It was becoming, increasingly, difficult for her to get around. I went over during my lunch hour and called all during the day.

The Hospital Scene

On Monday, August 26, 1977, I had been trying to call Terri for quite some time and received no answer. After about an hour, I called the Stewart Installation office; which was one of the Illinois Bell Telephone Company district offices close to Terri’s home. I asked one of the men to go over and see if she was okay. Briggs, the installation foreman, agreed to go and get back to me. After about an hour, Briggs called and said a neighbor saw Terri and Bobby leaving with a bag, early that morning.

 I immediately called the hospital to, no avail. They were unable to locate her. Frustrated and nervous, I decided to call Dr. Chapman, Terri’s Obstetrician. The receptionist informed me that Dr. Chapman was at the hospital on an emergency call. I asked if he was going to see Terene Bennett. She said she didn’t know. After hearing the receptionist’s response, my sixth sense told me to leave the office and head for Michael Reese Hospital. My cousin, Norma, called just as I was leaving. After explaining the situation, Norma insisted on accompanying me. I picked her up and headed for the hospital.

 Once we reached Michael Reese Hospital, we hustled to the Maternity area; immediately approached the Receptionist and inquired about Terene Bennett. After looking through her files she looked up and said: “I’m sorry but there is no one registered by that name here. Do you know what time she came in? Who’s her doctor? I can page him.”

Staring at her in complete amazement, I quietly said: “She came in some time early this morning, before 8:00AM. Her doctor is Clarence Chapman.”

 The receptionist asked us to take a seat while she paged the doctor. She would call us as soon as Dr. Chapman answered the page. We proceeded to do as she advised. There must have been about ten other people in the room. Dr. Chapman did not answer. The receptionist called the nurse in the labor room and was told there was no Terene Bennett there. She relayed the information to us. I said in an angry tone: “No Terene Bennett? You’ve gotta be kidding!” I was livid!

 In the meantime, my office beeped me. When I returned the call, my clerk informed me that Bobby called with a message that Terri had a Cesarean and a 6lb, 8oz-boy at12: 45P.

 I approached the receptionist again, saying in a very demeaning tone: “My son-in-law tells me I have a grandson in Michael Reese Hospital and you are saying my daughter can not be found. THIS IS MICHAEL REESE HOSPITAL, ISN’T IT?”

The poor receptionist started stammering and trembling. The other people in the area became concerned and started defending me. The entire room was in an uproar, everyone speaking simultaneously and asking the same questions. I was so upset, I began to hyperventilate. The situation was out of control. The conversations were so loud; the nurse came hustling in inquiring about the noise. The receptionist still trembling tried to explain with some difficulty. The nurse listened and then insisted that we all calm down, insuring us that she would get to the bottom of the problem.

 By this time my head had begun to ache; my heart felt like it was going to burst which made it difficult to breathe. My cousin applied a cold wet handkerchief to my head trying to relieve the pressure.

 Finally, the nurse returned informing us that Terri was in Recovery; and should be returned to her room shortly. She also explained that because this was emergency surgery, the registration was late being processed, as a result it was late getting to the receptionist.

 Laughing and looking directly at me, the nurse said: “The only way I knew her is because she heard you and informed me that you were her mother. She said she thought she was dreaming. Then, reality set in and she knew it was you. She asked the attending nurse to please talk to you before you started a riot.”

 I took a deep breath and quietly said: “Thank God. May I see her?”

 The nurse informed us that we would not be able to see her until she was returned to her room. But we could see Baby Bennett. Delighted, we followed the nurse to the Nursery. The Nursery Attendant held Baby Bennett up for us to see him. Of course, he was asleep, but beautiful.

Terri’s Room and Terri’s Surprise

Finally, we were allowed to see Terri. After she finished bawling us out, laughing all the time, she said: “I have another surprise for you.”

 Looking wide eyed we both just stared, awaiting the news. I must be calm regardless of what she has to say, I thought.

 Terri continued: “Ready?”

 Simultaneously, we said: “Yeah.”

 Terri announced: “Well, we are not naming the baby for 30 days. We are going to have an African naming ceremony. A big celebration at our house. We are choosing the IBO tribe.”

 Having flashbacks of her sister’s African wedding, I started hyperventilating again. Nanette’s African wedding is another story.

 Terri noticed this and said: “Oh Mom, don’t worry. We have already picked the name and this African guy that I graduated with is going to officiate. Bobby and I decided this during my pregnancy. We didn’t want to tell you because we knew you would get upset. Are you?”

 I said: “Am I what?

 “Are you upset?” she said smiling.

 Looking at her, still surprised, I said: “Of course not. What name have you chosen?

 Laughing a little she said: “I’ll tell you, but you have to sit down first.” Which we did.

 She continued: “Because he was turned around in my body and would have had to be forced out, feet first, we decided to name him, Daudi Ege Nagid Bennett, which means ‘Feet First Prince’.”

 Mouth open, I blurted: “What?”

 Norma said very disgustedly: “Oh My!”

 Terri started laughing so hard, she started coughing. The nurse heard Terri coughing and insisted that we leave.

 En route home, Norma and I were very quiet. I was too tired to talk! I wanted to cry, but talked myself out of it. I took Norma home and she invited me up for a glass of Champagne. I accepted and that one glass turned into several. I ended up spending the night and not going to work the next day.

 Terri and Baby Bennett went home a week later. Baby Bennett was born on August 26, 1977, at 12:45PM. He was named Daudi Ege Nagid Bennett (pronounced: Da-oo-de Ig-e Na-gay), on September 26, 1977. I must admit, it was a very impressive ceremony and many guests attended. That is another story!

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