Thursday, June 7, 2012

Week 23 of 2012 - Leaving Home

I left home really early, sixteen years old to be exact.  I had made this very adult like decision and I got pregnant and now it was time to take responsibility for my actions.  I had no idea what the future held for me BUT I knew that there would be a baby in it....sooner rather than later. The 2nd most difficult day of my life was the day the positive pregnancy test came back...This was in the early days of pregnancy test. It was 1972, when a teen pregnancy was treated very differently than today.  I had relied on a friend's Mom to help me get it. She called me on Saturday to give me the positive results.  I told my boyfriend that night and from the beginning we talked about getting married.  There was never a doubt in our minds that it was the right thing to do.

My boyfriend and I decided to take a few days to think about how we would tell our parents. By Monday, morning all of my friends and most of  the school knew that I was pregnant. It became very obvious that we were going to have to tell our parents NOW.  I had confided in my friend's Mother because I trusted her.  I had not confided in her daughter.  I believe to this day that my confidant had no idea that her daughter would spread this information around the school in 24 hours, but she did! Her daughter called everyone she knew and the information spread around like a wild fire.  This became a critical lesson to me about friendship.  I learned the type of friend I wanted to be and the type I did not want to be. I learned that not all people will be your friends. It was the first time I learned how hurtful it was to be betrayed.

That day became the most difficult day of my life. I spoke to my boyfriend and told him what happen and then I went home to tell my parents.  When I arrived home from school, my mother was sitting  in the family room in front of the TV watching her "Soaps".  I can still see it today!  She had two or three soaps that she watched everyday!  I thought they were the biggest waste of time but she loved them and really did not want to be bothered while she was watching them.  I sat in Dad's chair while she sat on the love seat.  For nearly two hours I tried to build up the courage to tell her what I knew she needed to know.   Several times tears welled up in my eyes but she did not seem to notice.  Eventually after what seemed like an eternity, I said " Mom, I need to tell you something" and I started to cry.  Through my sobs I told her,"I'm pregnant".  The look of shock and disbelief haunts me to this day. She was speechless and after what seemed to me the the most agonizing silence, she said, "How do you know?" I explained that I had a friend's Mom run a pregnancy test for me.  She said, "Those aren't always accurate! I need to call your Dad!! " And she left the room. I could hear her mumbling in the other room as I sat in Dad's Chair and cried.

Eventually I went to my room and cried some more.  Dad came home from work and came straight to my room.  Dad rarely even came upstairs and when he did he always knocked on a closed door.  Not today, he fling opened the door and said, "How could you do this to your Mother and I?" I felt a piercing pain in my heart as I sobbed.  I had let them down in the worse possible way that I could.  He stood in the doorway for a few moments and then he turned and left the room.  Later in the evening he came back upstairs.  He told me very calmly that I had made an adult decision  and now I would need to make some more.  He asked me, " what do you plan to do now?"  I told him, that Gary and I planned to get married.  He told me that marriage was not my only option.  He said,  "You know that you could always give the baby up for adoption.  There are many couples who are waiting for this very special opportunity."  I nodded and began to cry again.  "I don't want to do that", I told him and once again he left the room. 

In the days that followed, it was painfully obvious how much I had disappointed my parents but I could not undo what I had done.  Over the next week or so I continued to insisted that Gary and I would marry so my Dad told me, " Well you need to tell your Grandfather and maybe he will marry you or maybe we'll have to do something else."

SO once again I prepared myself to disappoint someone I dearly loved. I thought...oh when will this ever end...Grandpa Smith, being a retired Methodist minister was a special man.  I idolized  him.  He was the most peaceful caring person I knew.  I never heard him raise his voice. He always knew what to say and when to say it.  He had the power and authority to marry Gary and I if that was what we wanted.  So I chose my moment well. I waited until it was just Grandpa and I, then I told him.  I searched his face for the reaction that I expected to come and I never saw it.  His eyes never left mine, his face was so peaceful and full of grace.  I saw no disappointment, no judgement just pure love.  And I know that my father did not tell him before hand.  Dad made certain that I took full responsibility for what I had done. He had left that job up to me to do.   Grandpa told me that he loved me and what did I want to do. I told him that Gary and I planned to marry and he said " Set a date and we can do that."   I very sheepishly said to him, "  how will I ever tell Grandma?"  He replied, 'Don't you fret over that, you just let me take care of it!"  And that was that. In the coming weeks, we planned a simple wedding.

Shown in the photo from left to right: Lillian Smith, Leah Smith, Harold Smith, Janet Smith, Gary Tietz, Betty Tietz, Howard Tietz, Rose Kaake and Rev. Everett Smith in the front- May 28, 1972

On May 28, 1972, Dad went to Detroit to get Grandpa and Grandma Smith, bringing them to Imlay City.  Grandpa married Gary and I in a simple Saturday afternoon ceremony which was attended by our family, the Tietz family and a few close family friends. It was on that day that I left home at the age of 16.  So young and pretty scared but I would never have let anyone know.

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