Minnesota Winters: IV(raw)

Chapter IV
Turmoil And Change

A young woman is sitting patiently in the waiting area of a doctor’s office in East Saint Paul. She notices the putrid stagnant air of sickness lingering while she fills out a pile of paperwork the receptionist handed her. Mumbling to herself “Goddamned hippie chicks; their crazy hairdos drive me nuts!”

The tan metal door that appears to have been painted on the teal wallpaper with embossed silver floral design swings opens with a horrendous squeak. A nurse with a beehive hairdo, cream color scrubs and a pair of tan leather knee high designer boots, steps out and calls the young woman’s name. “Rose Brungart.” The young woman stands up, the two of them went down a tacky orange hall with Curious George painted everywhere. They enter a small room with faded apple green tiles, and an examination table with stirrups and a chair.

Rose sits on the table for almost an hour, finishing up the paperwork, and reading the October issue of old Rolling Stone Magazine. News articles about the death of Janis Joplin, and Jimi Hendrix. Feeling overwhelmed from the overused bleach and low lit room ambience and getting annoyed, She is almost ready to get up and leave, suddenly a knock at the door and the Doctor walks into the room, “Hello Rose, How are you today?” Rose shrugs a little, “Well that depends on what you have to tell me Felix.” Doctor is looking over the paper work, “Well it appears that the cancer is in remission, and the abnormal growth seems to have disappeared.” Rose loses her composure, sobbing into her hands. Doctor sits confused “I thought this is good news?” Rose “I’m just happy, I was worried.”

“Rose, I’m afraid there is a downside to this.” Rose, cheerful voice “Couldn’t be worse than dying of ovarian cancer Doc.” Felix puts his hand on Rose’s knee “Your chances of having a child are slim to none given you only have half a set of ovaries” Rose looks at him for a moment, “Felix, it’s ok.” Rose stands up, puts her hand on his shoulder “You’re a good Doctor, Thank you for the wonderful news.” Felix tries to interject, Rose leaves the room before he even gets a word out.

Later that evening Rose is sitting at the dining room table with her arts and crafts box, doing cross stitch patterns, while she is waiting for dinner to finish cooking in the oven. She hears the lock on the door rattling and Stanley walks into the apartment. He sits down on the burgundy velvet cushioned, dark mahogany chest bench that he made for Rose the previous summer as a housewarming gift. He turns to put his large lunch box and thermos down next to him. Leaning against the wall, and reflecting, he takes a slow deep breath and bends forward, reaching, grunting, tiredly, unties his sawdust caked boots, picking them up and neatly sets them on the rain mat on the door side of the bench. Standing up he removes all his work clothes and tosses them into the wicker laundry basket sitting on the other side of the bench. He closes the cover and walks into the bathroom to shower.

Rose enters the bathroom shortly afterwards, gets undressed, slowly eases herself into the hot shower with Stanley. He is surprised and instinctively embraces Rose. “Guess what!” Rose grinning “What?” Stanley says while grabbing a handful of her butt cheeks. Rose chuckling “Hey now, wait a minute… I went to the Doc today.” After a few minutes of groping, “Well, are you going to tell me or not?” Rose wraps her arms around his shoulders “Felix told me I’m cancer free today.” Stanley responds by lifting her up, and she straddles him.

Rose gets out of the shower, walks into the kitchen naked, pulls dinner out of the oven, sets it on the stove top. She opens up the cupboards gathers up the dishes, and puts them on the table. Turns about, walks back to the bedroom to get clean clothes. Stanley already at the dresser, she sees him standing there still wet from the shower. She pounces him, knocking him down onto the bed, he starts laughing. “Hey now, go easy. I had a long day my back is sore.” Teasingly, Rose “I’ll give you something to be sore about!”

While in the through of love making Rose whispers in his ear “I want to adopt a child.” Stanley shocked, pushes her off without even thinking about what he was doing, “Wait… Adopt?” Rose tries to climb back on top of him stubbornly. Stanley pushes himself into sitting position, resting his back against the headboard, and just stares at her for a moment. Rose stares back, “Yes, We both knew I was never going to be able to have a kid after the treatment.” Stanley stammers from mixed confusions “But hon, the wedding, the plans for the house, we can’t afford to have a child yet!” Rose hugs him, using her feminist wiles to coerce him “Yes we can Tiger. If I have to get a job too, we can make it work” Stanley just sits there, back against the headboard, Grabs a pillow from the side, and shoves it behind him, and then with his arms wrapped around her waist, she is sitting on top straddling him. Stanley is deep in thought while staring blankly in her eyes.

“I’m hungry!” while he nudges her off. He gets up off the bed , throws on his slippers and a robe, then heads out to the kitchen while deep in thought, flipping his fingers about in the air as if he is scratching invisible stuff from a check list. Rose throws on her nighty and follows him. “Can we talk about this?”

Stanley grabs the deep dish fried liver on baked mash potatoes and gravy, off the stove using a pair of brown hot mitts covered in orange and brown mushroom designs and puts it on the table, Rose reaches into the refrigerator and grabs the dressing and salad and a gallon of Kemps milk and sits down at the table across from Stanley. After saying grace, they eat their food in silence.

After taking the last bite of food off the plate, and washing it down with milk, “If we do this Rose, you know I will have to work longer hours, and take on new responsibilities that John Schroeder has been begging me to assume?” Rose nods with a glimmer of happiness. Stanley protests “I’m going to have to think about this. You are asking a lot, I am not sure about it yet.”

Rose stands up, starts gathering up all the dishes and cleans up the table. Stanley walks over to the stereo and puts a vinyl on the turntable, gently moves the arm onto the blank part. Listening to the snap crackle of the needle hitting the wear and tear edges of his overplayed favorite, The Everly Brothers, cranks the volume. He goes to sit back in his leg-kick lazy-boy recliner with aquamarine and beige designs. He kicks up the leg rest, leans back looking up at the Aphrodite hot oil rain lamp and watches the oil slowly drip down the wire glistening under the amber light. listening to Rose clean the dishes, Wake Up Little Susie playing and thinking.

Rose washes the last of the dishes and walks over to the chair seeing that he had his eyes shut and sits down gently in his lap. “How about this hon, We go to church this sunday, and we pray on it?” Stanley puts his left hand on her knee, and the other one reaches up and pulls her down to his chest, without even opening his eyes. “Ok, that sounds like a plan!” Rose and Stanley snooze in the chair together until the 10 pm channel 11 news comes on. Rose gets up and turns on the television, the last of the Hee Haw show was wrapping up. Gil Admundson the Anchor Man at WTCN News giving headline news about Vietnam war efforts, Violent Hells Angels incidents involving drugs and guns in South Saint Paul, Plane carrying Wichita State U football team crashes killing 30.

When the weather came on, Rose got up from the couch and headed to the bathroom before bed. Stanley gets up and goes to the fridge to grab a cold Schmidt beer, returns to his recliner and kicks up and watches the Johnny Carson show and Mash. After the shows were done he strolls back to the bedroom and slides into bed under the covers and snuggles with Rose who is already sound asleep.

A few months later Stanley walks into the house after an arduous day at work, without taking his clothes off at the door, he b-lines to the kitchen. Rose is sitting at the table with her embroidery kit open, see’s him standing on the carpet in his sawdust coated boots and dusty clothes, she jumps to her feet and walks towards him. In a haughty voice “get off my carpet Stan, you’re filthy!” grabbing Rose by her butt cheeks lifting her off the ground and smiling “Shroeder just gave me a $1.25 an hour raise today!” Rose squeals in delight and kisses him all over the face. Stanley trying to avoid the kisses “We can go to the adoption agency if you still want to!” Rose doesn’t say word instead she just starts ripping Stanley’s’ clothes off.

Stanley flops into his chair with Rose all over him. They take the little red bronco for a spin. Then a snapping sound followed by sharp cracking, before the two of them can react the chair butterflies. Laying there on his back shocked, Rose sitting on top of him starts laughing, Stanley shouts “FUCK!” pushing Rose off him. “That was my favorite chair. FUCK!” Rose couldn’t stifle her chuckling if her life depended on it. “I’m sorry Stan, But I love you!” Stan looks at her, glances at the chair “Fuck it!” Picks her up and goes to the bedroom with her straddling him.

It’s a frigid day in February 1971, Stanley took the day off from work to go with Rose to the Catholic Charities in downtown Saint Paul. The two of them bundled up, and jumped into the dark factory blue Ford Fairlane, and drove 20 minutes into downtown Saint Paul. They stopped off at Mickeys Diner on 7th Street. Stanley’s favorite place to grab lunch while at work. Mickey’s Diner is a trailer car built in 1945 with silver and red Art Deco style. This is a landmark in Saint Paul, that ran 365 days a year 24 hours a day, family operated, and Stanley knew all of them personally.

They sat down in a booth and ordered food, and chatted about what they were going to do at the Catholic Charities. They finished up their breakfast, and headed up the road. They arrived at the south wing of the old Saint Catherine’s Psychiatric Hospital that was converted into the Catholic Charities home for wayward children. Rose a bit creeped out by the eerie red brick six story building, grabbing Stanley’s arm, “I don’t know about this hon, this place makes me uncomfortable.” He pats her hand “It will be fine babe, we are only here to inquire.”

The two of them walk into the building and are greeted by a woman in a light blue habit, “Hi I’m sister Angeline, how can I help you today?” Stanley looks at Rose as she clears her throat “We are here about the possibility of adopting a child.” Sister Angeline happily escorts her into Mother Superior’s office and invites them to sit down on the chairs. “Mother Superior will be with you in a little bit.” she turns to leave the office, “Can i get you some water?” Rose smiles “no thank you.” Sister disappears into the hall.

Stanley is admiring the craftsmanship of the dark rich mahogany desk, running his fingers along the intricate trims and moldings “Whoever made this desk Rose, is a true master of the craft. I’m going to get that kind of reputation some day.” Rose puts her hand on his shoulder “I have no doubt.”

An elderly woman walks into the office with a deep obsidian habit and a huge rosary wrapped around her hand. She walks around the desk and sits down. Looking at both of them “How can I help you today?” Feeling a tad relaxed, while looking at Stanley “We want to adopt a child.” Mother Superior “Very direct, I like that!” Stanley, “This is our first child.” Nodding in recognition, Mother Superior pulls some paper work out of the desk drawer, lays them out on the desk, grabs a pen “What are you looking for in a child?” Stanley, “Definitely want a boy.” Rose is affirming “Yes a boy, and we want him to be a newborn.”

Mother Superior gets up from her chair walks over to the file cabinet and pulls out several files. Sitting down on the chair she opens each one of them, and pulls out one. “There’S a newborn boy whose mother was far too young to have a child, he was delivered in October of last year. He’s only 4 months old.” looking at the chart some more, shocked “He was born 12 pounds 3 ounces, oh my!” Stanley gives a shocked expression, “How old was the mother?” Mother Superior “Normally we don’t give out that information, but the girl was only 13 years old.” Rose reacts with awe “That poor child!” Mother Superior confirms it with the same sentiment.

Stanley, curiously “What is involved? Process, fees, so on?” Mother Superior cordially “Well first, you will have to go through an in depth interview to see if you are a good match for parenthood. Then Catholic Charities will appoint a Social Worker check out your home, contact relatives and references.” Rose, rhetorically “So basically we will be under a magnifying glass.” Mother Superior in an affirming tone “Yes, we take the safety and well being of the children in our care with the utmost priority.” Stanley, still curious “What kind of fees are we looking at?” deflecting Mother Superior “we will check out your work history, credit history, and see if you have any kind of complication in the legal.” Stanley bluntly “What Kind of Fees?” Mother Superior “when all is done it will cost about ten thousand dollars.” Stanley sighs, Mother Superior “However, healthcare and educational allowances will be given for the first 9 years.”

Awhile later Rose and Stanley are signing papers, and writing a check for five hundred dollars to begin the process. Mother Superior stands up reaches over the desk with her hand extended, Stanley rises to his feet and grasps her hand firmly shaking it. “Good luck to the two of you, I hope everything works out.” Stanley “Thank you!” Rose and Stanley leave the office and head to their car.

Heavy showers on April 3rd, a depressing day, Rose is in the kitchen baking muffins, a knock at the door startles her. Grabbing the dish rag and wiping her hands, she walks down the stairs to the door and opens it. “Hello?” A woman with two other people standing behind her “Are you Rose Brungart?” Rose a little anxious “Yes, how can I help you?” The woman “My name is Sandra Whitherton, I am with the Social Services, do you mind if we come in?” Rose steps back and motions into the house “Sure come on up.” The three of them enter the house.

Rose walks past the three at the top of the stairs and motions them to sit at the dining room table. “If you don’t mind I need to grab these out of the oven. You came unannounced.” Sandra “No problem, that was kind of intentional, we wanted to see what you do on a normal day.” Rose eminently “Well, not to sound rude, but that is kind of rude, don’t you think?” Sandra casually “Like I said, it is to see how you are in everyday life with out a charade.” Rose nods.

Sandra sets her satchel next to the chair, pulls out a huge file of papers. Laying them on the table “Rose, we have good news for you.” Patiently Rose looks at Sanra while she takes the muffins out of the pan. Sandra “You have been approved for adoption. You and your husb…” Rose interjects “Fiancee, we are getting married next month!” Sandra “Of course, fiancee, have checked out and Catholic Charities has the perfect little boy for you.”

Rose holding her composure over her excitement, “So what do i need to do next?” Sandra, “well do you have a room set up for the child?” Rose motions Sandra to follow “this way.” The four of them walk down the hall to a small room, with tall ship wallpaper, brown shag carpet, and a bed. A toy box that Stanley made, filled with toys, and a tyco basketball hoop. Sandra smiling “Wow you really did go all out, this is impressive, you guys will do great as parents.” Rose gratefully “Thank you.” Sandra looking at her two escorts then back at Rose “Call Mother Superior up tomorrow morning, arrange a time to pick up the child. You will need to bring your checkbook, and you will need to come up with a name for the child for the birth certificate.” Rose looks at her curiously “Didn’t the biological mother name him?” Sandra “she did but we can not share that with you. It’s just policies” Rose curiously “Did the mother want to keep the child?” Sandra, hesitantly “Policies prevent us from going into great details, but I can share this much. The mother was devastated. She cried for days when she handed the baby over to one of the nuns. She returned with her family. There are accurate records for the child should he choose to seek her out in the future.” Rose replies “I am hoping that we are such great parents that he will never want to seek them out. But we will cross that bridge when it comes to that point” Sandra smiling “You will surely do well with this child. It was nice to meet you, have a great day” as the three of them gather up their things and exit the duplex.

Rose is so ecstatic, she got dressed, walked over to the walgreens to catch the number 12 bus to downtown, then hopped on the 16 to where Stanley worked. The bus dropped her off right in front of his work place. She gets off and runs into the building. She bumps into Mr Hanson, the foreman, “Hey Jeff, where’s my boy, I have something important to tell him!” Mr Hanson points to the far end of the building, “he’s putting finishes on a cabinet at the moment.” She pecks him on the cheek, and runs off. He smiles and shakes his head. She runs up to Stanley startling him,”Baby.. I got the most awesome news!” Stanley shocked, “What are you doing here?” Rose slightly winded “We got the baby, we can get him tomorrow if we want.” Stanley grabs her in excitement and picks her up off the ground and start hooting and hollering. The men in the shop stopped what they were doing, silence was like a drum beat, Stanley instantly picks up on the silence, and yells out loud “I’m going to be a daddy!” All the men start cheering and congratulating the two of them. Mr Shroeder comes out of the office, gets second hand news from one of the other guys after inquiring what was going on. Mr Shroeder walks over to Stanley and Rose, “Darlin, you shouldn’t be here, but congratulations to the two of you. Now clock out and go take care of your business. I’ll see you on monday!” Stanley shocked with disbelief, “thank you Mr Shroeder, thank you so much!” The two of them walk to the locker room to grab his stuff, and they shuffle out to the ford and jump in. They head home.

It’s Monday morning, the sun is just peaking up over the horizon, Stanley was restless in the middle of the night. Rose woke up noticing he’s gone and smells coffee, she threw her robe on, went out to the kitchen, Stanley is nursing a giant cup of black coffee. “Oh honey, you’re nervous about picking up the baby today?” Stanley drinks deeply, and just stares at Rose, trying to hide his nervousness and doubts. Rose, fretful “You’re not having second thoughts are you Stan?” Stanley just continues to nurse his coffee staring at her.

Stanley’s thoughts are raging with an overdrive of what if’s. {What if he gets sick? What if I’m a bad father? What if my wife dies? What if he is a problem child? What if he has medical needs? What if I end up losing my job?} Rose picks up on his body posture. “Oh baby, everything will be just fine, trust me. We are doing really well so far.” Stanley puts his coffee down, kisses her cheek and walks off to the bathroom to take a shower, locking the door behind him.

Rose heads back to the bedroom, chooses her sunday best, and gets dolled up. Stanley comes out of the bathroom, a towel wrapped around his waist, and steam flowing off his body. Rose is shaking her head because she is already dressed, she can not help how she is reacting. She clears her throat and exits the bedroom as fast as her feet can carry her without going into a full run. Stanley is smiling because he knows exactly what he is doing. He dons his business casuals and leaves the bedroom.

The two of them walk out the front door, locking it. Then get into their trusted ford and drive off to downtown St. Paul. They stop at Mickey’s diner, ordering breakfast and a pot of coffee. Cutting into his country fried steak, “Rose, do you really want this child?” Rose looking through squinting eyes of annoyance “You know I do Stan, why the sudden change?” Stanley washing down his food “Because I worry about things, I am just curious if you thought it through completely.” Rose leans back in the corner waiting for Stanley to finish up his food. “I have been think about this for 5 months now, I’m positive Stan.”

Stanley pulls out his wallet, lays a 10 dollar bill on the table, and gets up to leave. Rose follows him. The two of them stroll out to the car, Rose grabs his arm “It will be adventurous Stan, have faith, we are going to be fine!” They get into the car, and drive 4 blocks over to the Catholic Charities building.

Arriving, parking where the car can be seen from the windows, they get out and walk into the building, and up to Mother Superior’s office. Knocking on the door, Mother Superior in a cheerful mood “Good Morning, come, come sit down.” Stanley “Thank you.” He waits until Rose is sitting first before planting his bum to chair. “Are you ready to see your new son?” Mother Superior in an excited tone. Rose anxiously “Yes… Yes we are.” Stanley is nodding. Mother Superior presses a big white button on a small beige speaker box “Sister Angeline, bring the boy into his new parents.” A few minutes later Sister Angeline walks into the room holding a bundled up boy. Rose couldn’t help herself, she starts chuckling. “Omg he’s a watermelon!” Stanley starts laughing. “Hey now… “ He reaches out, Sister Angeline hands him the bundle. “Oh My Lawd he’s heavy.” Sister Angeline “He weighs twenty two and a half pounds now”
Rose, shocked “Good Lawd!” Stanley and Rose are looking into the boy’s eyes, cooing, the baby reaches up and touches Stan’s face, while smiling big, with a giggle, kicking at his blanketed cocoon. Stanley is instantly attached, completely mesmerized by the brightest blue eyes he’s ever seen. Mother Superior is looking over Stanley’s shoulder, softly “What are you going to call him?” Rose replies “Oh, we haven’t really discussed it.” Stanley speaks almost as a knee jerk reaction “Joseph Bradley Alfred Derszcwski” Rose looks at Stanley for a few moments. “That’s perfect!” Mother Superior “Saint Joseph the Patron Saint of Churches. That is a strong name for a boy.” Stanley replies, “I named him after my grandfather who was the first of my family on American soil. And Alfred is her father who served in the Korean war.” Mother Superior, “Well usually there is only one sur-name but we can write this on the birth certificate.”

In the car driving to Stanley’s parents house, where everyone is waiting to meet the new addition to the family. Rose turns “Stan I think I’m going to call him JB for short.” Stanley nods while he concentrating on driving. “That’s ok, I’m probably going to call him tiger until he says he doesn’t like it anymore.” Trying to hold a burst of laughter back, chuckling.

They arrive at his parents house in Maplewood, a beautiful 2 story port wine red victorian design with white trims half way down the hill on Arlington Street. The house and detached two car garage are surrounded by pines and a wooden fence encompassing the entire lot. Exiting the vehicle, Stanley goes to the trunk and grabs the baby bag which Rose bought the day before. Rose picks up JB and the two of them walk into the house. Immediately upon entering, not getting a chance to fully get inside, Beth, Ann, Louise, Lynn bouncing Jewels on her hip circle around. Cheerful Beth “Oh my saints! He’s a beautiful baby!” Louise affirming “Rose, you did our families good with this one, he’s gorgeous!” Reaching in and lightly scratching his cheek, Ann “He’s going to be a big kid!” Rose, chuckling “He came out almost a full 13 pounds!” Beth shocked “Oh The Heavens that poor girl!” Rose “That’s what I said!” Ann continues to induce smiles from the baby by scratching his cheek.

Stanley’s Mother Beth, a thin woman with a distinctive personality that matches her looks. Curly haired woman of a second generation german family who survived the depression. Her bitterness about life in general is shrouded by her love and stoicism towards to her family. Stanley’s sister Ann a chubby dirty colored auburn hair woman who works for DataControl, a busy body and town gossip. The two of them walk into the kitchen together. Louise is Rose’s mother, thin and pale dark haired woman with thick horn rim glasses and frumpy grey single piece dress, a third generation german who fared well during the depression since she grew up on an army base, where she met her husband Alan. Lynn is Stanley’s sister in-law whose personality is a little mousey. The three of them are standing there ogling over the baby. Rose “Lets get into the kitchen, I need to put him down, and I need a pop!” Stanley weaves through the women like a spindle through a loom,


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