Winnifred Farewell

These are the final pages of the baby book written by Catherine E. Park for her first child, Winnifred  Evelyn Park (April 6-December 3, 1938)

November 22, 1938 Winnifred delighted in bending backward and forward in her carriage, thus making it roll forward and back along the floor. That day while she was playing this little game in the presence of Mrs. Sinclair, she sputtered suddenly and loudly, making Mrs. Sinclair liken her to a motor car.

Wee Winsome tried out cousin Bonnie's rocker a few times but was so much interested in the upturned black rubber casters that she spent her time reaching for them instead of learning to hold the little handle bar and rock herself. Her little legs were too short to allow her pink-booted feet to rest flat on the floor, and therefore she couldn't push with them but had to swing back and forth in the seat to start her rocker rocking.

How cunning Winnifred looked the day she rode to Mrs. Norman Corbett's in her bathtub set on Douglas' little wagon. Douglas pulled the wagon while I steadied the tub which Wee Winsome had outgrown and which we were returning to Mrs. Corbett.

Monday, Nov 28 Baby went to bed early, as did the big children, for all were a little miserable with colds.

Tuesday, Nov 29 She awakened when Wilford and I went to our bedroom and didn't settle down again at once. We worked with her from 11:30 to 12:30 giving a mild mustard plaster and other treatment after which she slept fairly well till morning.

Wednesday, Nov 30 Tuesday and Wednesday Winnifred had only a sponge bath because her little nose was running and her appetite rather poor. I gave her nose drops last thing Wednesday night before going to the Springfield production of George in a Jam. She had been much happier on the way to bed that night than on Monday or Tuesday when I tried in vain to console her. However she was a little restless that night and didn't drink all her breakfast milk on Thursday, Dec 1. She seemed much better this morning and I ventured to give her a bath after I washed my own hair. She was delighted at the gambols of my wayward, frizzy locks, and took them as something planned especially to give her a good game. I watched her in the hall mirror while I held her in my arms. She laughed, and reached for the unruly curls. Her vaccination for small pox (given Nov 22nd) was taking well and I tried, not very successfully, to keep her from wetting the dressing. This made her bath take rather long, the longer since I put the wrong shirt on her by mistake and thought I had to change it.

In any case, her laughter gradually subsided to fretfulness and drowsiness. She refused to eat her pabulum as she sat in her high chair by the piano, refused to drink her milk when laid in her carriage, yet didn't seem able to rest easily when wheeled out into the hall. I let Betty and Douglas try to coax her to drink while I continued sewing upstairs, but it was no use. After dinner Wilford discovered a suspicion of chest trouble and greased the little girl 'all around about.' I cancelled my intended trip to Tillsonburg and tried to nurse the baby in the warm front room. She lay very still and white and could take only a little food at a time. I managed to give her more than half a bottle of milk and some orange juice but she did not keep it down. Pneumonia had definitely developed in the right lung by night. With the aid of the alarm clock we gave the medicine prescribed by Dr. Alexander every three hours through the night, also feeding her orange juice and corn syrup, and applying mustard. She was most restless between one and three o'clock, and kept losing the fluids she took. I nursed her all day Friday with hardly a moment to spare. Clara did the regular Friday baby wash and also stayed overnight to help. She was so thoughtful and helpful throughout the two hard days and one hard night, bringing hot drinks to Wilford and me, and going on duty while we snatched some sleep between 11:00 pm and 1:15 am. The second lung was affected when Wilford returned from London with oxygen and some new instructions from Dr. Little. Neither treatment could stay the progress of the disease, though we were able to take down the poison distention by morning, and though her temperature became a little lower after Dr. Little's call and assistance between nine and ten Saturday morning.

Our last little blessed and memorable moment together came after Little Sweetheart had had a sleep of an hour or more induced by steaming, giving oxygen, and perhaps the effect of sulphanilamide injections. It was around seven o'clock Saturday morning when Winnifred awoke, her eyes calm and bright in the pale sweet loveliness of her face, a damp curl clinging to her forehead. A little later I carried some pure clear water in Lila's beautiful crystal goblet, and in the presence of our little family circle I baptized my darling 'in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost,' ending with the prayer: "God bless thee and receive thee unto Himself."

Mother, Father and Wesley arrived from South Cayuga some time after Dr. Little's visit and Wesley drove to Tillsonburg for Marie Elson, the trained nurse. When Marie took charge Wilford lay down, exhausted. Wesley and I procured some additional oxygen equipment from Mrs. Barnhardt at the Continuation School, but it was never used.

The end came between one and two o'clock Saturday afternoon, when the little one quietly ceased breathing. Marie was just returning from a hasty dinner downstairs, and applied oxygen at once, then sent for Wilford. All efforts to stimulate lung or heart action failed, however, and we had to give up. By the grace of the Most High I was able to keep steady and tried to help Wilford, and Mother, who was weeping for us both. But Wilford had to be my strength and comfort in the later days of loneliness and heartache. That first day, even, he gave me the sustaining thought that Winnifred had not lost her chance of living her life, but would go on living and growing in a more beautiful and wonderful way, free from human limitations, in God's other world. From this thought grew the little poem, upon which I concentrated in the wakeful hours of the night, either between Saturday and Sunday, or between Sunday and Monday. There was some sad comfort in thus composing a poem for my little one; it distracted my thoughts from more heart-breaking channels and helped to strengthen my faith by epitomizing the beliefs I had begun to cling to--I had never given them much thought before my darling's 'going-home.'

I have since turned sometimes to the words of my verse to remind myself of the realities of the Other World and thus have eased the pain of thinking on what might have been. When I mourn over the unfulfilled promises of physical beauty and intellectual ability in Winnifred I remind myself that the best of physical loveliness is the result of a human soul showing itself through the medium of physical expression. How beautiful then must be that soul, and her soul lives on. Intellectual attainment, too, is all but purposeless apart from the soul, which is nourished in part by intellectual appreciations and which gives purpose to mental abilities by directing them in the service of mankind; and her soul lives on. How much faster and farther it can progress over there than it could have done here! How can I mourn then, for little earthly promises unfulfilled?

My little poem lies beside my baby now, fastened with loops of white satin ribbon (from Helen Goheen) to my own little spray of flowers in which three white baby chrysanthemum clusters stand for her purity and innocence, two pink rosebuds (from Mrs. M. Ker of Brownsville) pay tribute to her warm, bright perfection of physical beauty, and the fern I grew in Wilford's front office symbolizes all my loving labor for "little light of my life." A single deep pink rosebud with its lacy fern lies by her left hand, a gift from all our family to our little rosebud who has gone to bloom more sweetly in the Better Land. Her right hand rests against her lovely rounded cheek as she sleeps in her narrow satin bed, soft white pansies flowering the cover and walls of her tiny casket, and the silver plate inscribed "Our Darling" looks down upon her last, long, peaceful slumbering.