When Annie was six weeks old we took her on a car trip to Ohio. My brother was getting married and I was the best man, and everyone wanted to see the new baby. We put Annie in her car seat, and Judy sat in back with her while I drove. It was a nine hour trip, but stretched to twelve. We had to stop frequently to get out and give Annie a break. She tolerated the motion of the car well enough until we came to some highways in between Columbus and Dayton that were roughly patched. The car bounced around and Annies’ head bounced with it.
We got out at a state park off of I75, and I walked with Annie resting on my forearm. She stared up at the light breaking through the canopy of the maple trees, and was fascinated when a breeze made the leaves shimmer. I felt terrible when I took her back to the car and strapped her in again.
We stayed at my sister’s house. Carla was five months pregnant with her second boy. She watched with amusement as Judy and I carefully prepared bottles of formula for Annie by boiling the bottles to sterilize them, boiling the water we used to make the formula, and measuring out the powder with precision. Carla told me, “We put the bottles in the dish washer to clean them and just used hot water from the tap.”
Annie slept straight through the next two days. She saw nothing of the rehearsal, the wedding and the reception. She did stir from time to time long enough to drink a bottle with her eyes closed. I held her up among the women who were gathered around when the bride tossed the bouquet, but Annie remained unaware that her lack of alertness (as well as her complete inability to catch anything) made her miss her chance to ensure that she would be the next girl married.
When we got home I took her on a tour of our rooms and let her see and touch familiar things. Her eyes lit up in recognition of her surroundings, and she looked happy and relieved to be back home.
A few days later Judy took her outside in the back yard. Judy picked a peony from the garden, showed Annie the petals and let her sniff the scent. Annie looked up and gave her mother a melting look of love and adoration, and then she smiled for the first time.