Part 8: The girl of the moment
"Pregnancy test will be tonight," Kathy writes in her diary on Feb. 24. "I am totally psyched!!"
A week ago, for reasons that might be called spiritual, Kathy was less excited.
She was driving in her car, she says, when her late mother-in-law Florence Aguiar, to whom she was very close, spoke to her. Kathy wasn't alarmed by this; she says Florence has come to her occasionally since her death in 1994, and sometimes even holds her hand.
Florence told Kathy that, yes, Wendy eventually would conceive-a hugely reassuring message-but that "it's gonna take a couple of months, because it takes time for the seed to be planted."
Knowing this calms Kathy down-for a few days anyway.
* * *
"She's trying to pretend like she's contained," says her mother Louise Allaire in her daughter's kitchen.
"I am contained," says Kathy, fooling nobody, and peeking at her veal parmigiana in the oven.
It's a trait of Kathy and Wendy's family that they turn any occasion into a party-including this pregnancy test occasion, which might bring disappointment. It's as if they figure, better to be disappointed with your family around you.
This gathering at Joe and Kathy Aguiar's house is a small party-Kathy and Joe, Louise and her husband, Bob, and 15-year-old Jamie, the son of Kathy and Wendy's brother Dougie.
The main attraction-Wendy-is on her way, with her daughter Rachel.
(Wendy's husband, Andy, having gotten up at 4 a.m. to work, is too tired to attend. Wendy and Kathy's brother Chip, who lives in North Kingstown, declines to come, as well, saying he can't bear to see Kathy disappointed. Like many men, Chip is also shy about female biology; informed a month ago that Wendy's period had come, he asked, uncomfortably, Am I supposed to know this? Two other brothers, John and Doug, live in Florida.)
Kathy and her mother flutter from task to task in the kitchen. Joe, Bob and Jamie, as if heeding some male instinct, gravitate toward the living room, and ESPN2.
"The child will be very lucky," Louise declares, slicing bread on a board and neatly discarding the crumbs. Of her own five children, she says, "Their hearts and souls are so good."
"We were taught by my mother," says Kathy, returning the compliment. "As you're taught, you'll do."
When Wendy arrives with Rachel, it's to a bit of fanfare-"Here she is! Here she is!" "The girl of the moment!"-which Wendy shyly deflects by setting a strawberry-rhubarb pie on the counter and mentioning that it's her favorite.
Joe-no longer having to dodge her-greets Wendy with a kiss on the cheek, and she responds with a very natural, "How are you, Joe?"
Wendy doesn't want people to be disappointed tonight, so she douses all expectation that she's pregnant, saying her period has been as late as the 31st of the month, and here it is, only the 24th.
"All right, then," teases Louise, with mock nonchalance. "Let's all go home."
Kathy counters that Wendy is, in fact, five days late-"Twenty-eight days was last Wednesday; this is the 33rd day"-and, with Wendy looking over her shoulder, she checks and rechecks her math, poking a finger at each date on a calendar before deciding, why argue about it?
Let's just do the test, she says. She picks up the small box, and begins reading the instructions to Wendy-"Place the absorbent tip in the urine stream-"
"I know how to do it," says Wendy, embarrassed.
"Go in there!" says Kathy, pushing Wendy toward the bathroom. "Go pee! Mom, tell her to go in there and go!"
Wendy disappears into the bathroom, and Kathy reads the instructions to her through the door: "Hold the test in its down position until you see blue color moving across the large window . . . "
"We're gonna know in three minutes!" squeals Louise, summoning the men back into the kitchen. When Jamie appears, Louise hugs him to dissipate some of her energy. She is so nervous, she thinks sheUll stay home the next time-if there needs to be a next time-and get the news by phone.
"I know it's gonna take time," Kathy says, preparing herself for the worst, and peeking again at the veal parm just to have something to do.
A moment later, Wendy emerges from the bathroom and hands the white plastic wand to Kathy, who passes it to Louise-"I can't do this, Ma. Here! Here!"
Louise takes the wand and squints down at its tiny windows.