Part 2: Babyville
A refrain ran through Andy Moricas's courtship with Wendy. It went: My sister Kathy deserves a child. My sister Kathy should be a mother - which Andy could see for himself was true.
He is an easygoing guy - he reminds his catering truck customers of Jay Leno - and he didn't flinch at her unusual precondition for marriage. If she wanted to give her sister a child, who was he to stop her?
Kathy was moved by Wendy's offer, but she declined it. She and her husband, Joe, were fine with life the way it was, she said. The anger, the sadness - those feelings were all gone. And besides, she reasoned, her situation must be God's will.
* * *
Nine years later, in 1996, two things happened.
Joe's niece was coming from San Diego to visit for a week, along with her 1-year-old daughter. So Kathy and Joe set about rounding up baby furniture - a playpen, a high chair, a car seat.
"It was Babyville in my house," says Kathy, remembering the happy commotion, as no fewer than four friends offered playpens. "My emotions were starting to erupt a little."
The baby's things were barely in place when Kathy felt another tremor, this one caused by a front-page article in The Journal-Bulletin - "Vatican paper suggests married couples 'adopt' frozen embryos."
The Church was alarmed that, in Britain, 6,000 abandoned embryos, stored in vats of liquid nitrogen, were about to be destroyed. It was asking married women to volunteer to be implanted with them.
Kathy mistakenly believed she could answer the Pope's call. She did not understand that the hysterectomy had left her without a womb; all she knew was she could not bear children of her own.
Falling to her knees in the privacy of her bathroom, crying with gratitude, she prayed to Mary - This is what I've wanted and hoped for all these years. And you know. And that's why you've given me this!
She called her mother in North Kingstown, heady with plans for a trip to England.
Gently, reluctantly, her mother set her straight - You don't have a place, Kathy.
A period of deep sadness followed, and out of that darkness, feelings that Kathy had pushed down stirred to life: She told her husband that she was thinking about accepting Wendy's offer.
Joe is a Vietnam veteran traumatized by the war, and he never expected to be a parent. He thought that was something he and Kathy had in common - a sort of his-and-her woundedness that formed an extra bond between them.
He was against this idea of Kathy's: Wasn't everything fine as it was?
And yet, here she was, so desperate and insistent. How could he deprive her? He talked it over with his father, who was dubious at first, but then - Kathy considers it a miracle - he gave the project his blessing.
Now Joe and Kathy went to Wendy with their question: That offer you made. Does it still stand?
* * *
By now, Wendy was 34 years old. Her last pregnancy was eight years ago. Both she and Andy considered her childbearing days blessedly behind them.
But Wendy was willing.
Getting Andy to agree required a few long talks - he needed reassuring that this would in no way harm his and Wendy's marriage - but he kept his promise.
Now Wendy told Kathy and Joe, yes.
"One year out of my life," said Wendy. "What's one year? I've got 60 more to go. And look at what's going to come."