Part 7: A world away
When the second attempt at pregnancy fails, Joe's friend Mickey Bailey visits the house and sees that Kathy is distraught, so he takes Joe aside and tells him he should send her flowers.
But that's not Joe's style - "I'm not the so-called romantic type. I'm just your regular Joe" - which happens to be a quality Kathy loves in him.
Alerted, though, that Kathy needs comforting, Joe does try.
"Honey, it's not working so far," he tells her. "It's not working and maybe it's not meant to be for us. This has nothing to do with us. It has everything to do with God."
Kathy believes that's true, but she also wonders, What is in God's head?
Maybe He wants her and Joe to adopt a child. Maybe He doesn't want Wendy to be pregnant in the summer, because she'd be uncomfortable. Maybe He's only given Wendy enough eggs to create the two children she already has.
Unable to fathom the mind of God, she rallies everyone for another try.
* * *
Joe's favorite place to go on Insemination Day is Vito's Oil Express, an oil delivery company co-owned by his friend Mickey.
Located off Killingly Street in Johnston, it has hulking trucks outside and industrial furnishings within, and seems a world away from the feminine guest room where Joe's sister-in-law, Wendy, completes her part of the process.
When Joe arrives, Vito's is quiet for the night; it's just Joe and Mickey, relaxing and talking in a small upstairs office, their feet up on a desk.
Then suddenly the phone rings, and Kathy's frantic voice, buzzing over the speaker phone, fills the room. She's saying that she fumbled with the equipment - and honey, come home!
Mickey, amused and sympathetic to Joe, turns the conversation into a conference call by shouting at the phone: I don't believe what you're putting this guy through! He's not leaving here! Why don't you come over here and bring the bottle?
This, actually, is a good idea, because it means that Wendy can stay put instead of leaving the house while Joe performs an encore. Kathy tells Joe she'll be right over.
Afterwards, Kathy rushes back to Wendy, and Joe climbs up into Mickey's truck to accompany him, as he often does, on an evening oil run, relaxing into the comforting rhythm of a routine errand.
* * *
The next day, to make the most of Wendy's ovulating, they do the procedure again.
Joe, tired but also a bit proud of his stamina, leaves the house by the front door, and stays out for a while.
Wendy, who has put in a full day on the catering truck, has picked up 7-year-old Rachel from school, fixed her family's dinner and loaded the dishwasher, and she is also tired. She sheds her work boots at Kathy's back door with a sigh that sums up her life.
Then she sets Rachel up with crayons and paper to make Valentines in the living room, and heads once again for the guest room, to try again to make a baby.
Not that she believes this will work; she's convinced she'll have better luck in a doctor's office.
Her husband, Andy, is also skeptical, and has been from the get-go. "Wrong guy's doing the job," he joked after the first two failures. Lately, he's been asking her, How many times are you going to try?
Even Kathy, to protect herself from new disappointment, lowers her expectations, and is careful about how much she tells people, lest she wind up delivering more bad news, a draining experience.
"If it happens, it happens," is her new attitude. "I accept God's will."