Mom was going to the hospital to get Snort taken out of her tummy. She didn’t know at first that it was Snort. She told Hanks that when she came home from the hospital she would be bringing a baby sister with her. And Hanks knew a baby sister would be her very best friend in the whole world and they would play together, have secrets, do make believe, laugh, and have a really lot of fun. Hanks could hardly wait to have her mom bring home her new sister so they could get busy playing together.
Mom was pretty sick for a long time before she went to the hospital to get the baby sister to bring home. So sick she had to have a high school girl come live with them to help mom because mom couldn’t lift anything or clean the house or do much at all. Mostly she was just in bed. Like when she had sick headaches, but now that isn’t what she had. She had sick something else, but it wasn’t in her head.
The high school girl was named Rain and she was a lot of fun. She had a boy friend and he would come over after supper, just before Hanks’ bed time and Rain would make scrambled eggs for him. If Hanks was very good and no trouble and didn’t make waves, Rain would give her some scrambled eggs too. They were the best in the whole world. Better than mom made. No particular reason they were better than mom’s eggs, just that it was special to be able to eat at the table with Rain and her boy friend. Very close to being a grown up.
One day when Rain was in school and dad was at work, mom gave a little yelp and went to the telephone and then into the bathroom and closed the door. Dad come home and put mom and Hanks in the car and took Hanks to Vera and Junior’s house where she carried her small suit case up the stairs and Junior and his dog Spots greeted her at the door. Junior stuck his tongue out at Hanks and Spots barked and tried to bite her hand which scared her a lot. Maybe Spots meant to lick her hand. Dad and mom drove off.
That night Hanks slept in a small bedroom on a small bed all by herself with no lights at all and with Spots sitting in front of her bedroom door. She woke up in the middle of the night and had to go to the bathroom but it was dark and Spots was still being a soldier protecting the room so she wet the bed and started to cry. Then she remembered big girls don’t cry and it never helped when mom cried so she dove down under the blankets and even though it smelled like pee she went back to sleep.
The next morning Vera was mad but she made oatmeal for breakfast and put raisins in it and brown sugar over the top then poured milk over it all. Hanks gagged and Vera said it’s good Hanks. You like it. It has raisins. Hanks hated raisins and threw up everything that was in her tummy from dinner last night. Then she asked where her mom was and Vera said don’t make waves your mom is very sick and she is in the hospital.
Hanks knew without a shadow of a doubt that Vera didn’t like her and Junior hated her, Vera said she was going to the hospital to see mom and Hanks could stay with Junior or ride in the car with her. Hanks choose riding in the car but she thought that meant going into the hospital to see mom as well.
It meant having Vera lock her in the car and go into the hospital to see mom and the new baby. Hanks’ new baby. Hanks’ mom and their new baby. The hospital didn’t let children come in to see their moms. Hanks didn’t understand. She was sitting in the front seat not doing much when there was a tap on the car window. At first Hanks was scared. Then she looked carefully and saw it was dad. His car had pulled up behind Vera’s car and he got out and came over to see what was going on. They tried to talk through the closed window but it wasn’t easy. Dad kept pointing to a button and making a move with his hand that said up. Hanks pulled on the button and it came up and dad opened the car door and Hanks scrambled out of the car into his arms.
What are you doing locked in this car? dad said. Then he took Hanks hand and together they went into the hospital. Hanks walked right past Vera who was sitting in a chair outside mom’s room and she went into the room with dad and dad put her on the bed beside mom. All three of them hugged and cried and cried and hugged.
There wasn’t a baby sister.
There was a baby brother and he was broken and he needed to go to another hospital to get fixed and mom needed to stay in the hospital for a long time and get strong again. Dad and the doctor took her Snort to the other hospital and mom stayed in bed and Vera took Hanks to her house to stay for a long time. Hanks knew Vera and Junior didn’t want her. But she thought Spots loved her quite a bit because he sat by her bed every night while she slept and it wasn’t biting he wanted to do with her hand, it was kissing. Wet tongue doggie kisses that tickled.
That is when Bradshaw first came to visit Hanks.