There she was, with her dark pixie cut, a glittering bracelet on her naked arm resting on the back of the tub. My Aussie angel in the bath.
I felt shiny from the fancy scrub station, the so called Japanese Wall, in this hippie chic luxurious Queensland spa. I had tried all the different concoctions of various plants and aromatic oils laid out in earthenware, inhaling heady scents while rubbing them into my skin.
Well cleansed, I had continued to the Moroccan tiled steam room and then to the natural timber clad large tub of bubble bath. Skin aglow, self-conscious in my almost nakedness, I slid in to the warm water opposite her, not yet knowing she was an angel. I didn’t have the astute sense of Abraham who recognised the angels as they appeared at his door.
She started chatting and very soon asked if I had children. One boy, I replied, and added that there probably would be no more, as I already had four decades to my name. As if this was what she had been waiting for, she moved in to the story of her family. Her two youngest of four were born after she turned forty, she told. Her third was born against the warnings of doctors. He was her beloved and beautiful boy who society calls imperfect. She told me about the painful questions and heavy fears as she was being pressurised from all around to abort him. But in her heart she knew she loved him already and was not willing to give him up. She wanted to let him live, to feel the sun on his skin and hear words of endearment in his ears. Naturally, she said, we had to make some adjustments in our life to care for him and his needs, but we never regretted the decision. He is a delight and the gentle heart of our family.
She had another child a couple of years later. Another boy, an ‘A-child’ as they used to say in less politically correct times. Deemed ‘normal’ in society’s calculations but wild and obstinate and difficult to raise. Admittedly, she continued, he may have a lot to tell the shrink in years to come, about being a small child deprived of all the attention he craved when so much was given an older sibling. Be that as it may, she added, my normative youngest child gave me so much more trouble than the son society would have had me get rid of, and I love them both to the heavens and back. So be not afraid, she assured me, because of warnings and values of society. If another child was in the books for me, I would love him or her come what may.
I thanked her for sharing her story and climbed out of the tub. I felt cleansed in and out, but didn’t think much more of what she had told me, other than to laughingly tell hubby about the talkative lady in the bath who was there when I got in and stayed when I got out.
A few days after the spa visit I realised I was late. I was surprised. We hadn’t planned for another child. Having been a late bride, I had wanted to conceive quickly and happily gave birth to a healthy boy a year into our marriage. I was grateful. My dreams from a younger age, of a large brood at my skirts, had been laid to rest long before, but now suddenly here was a chance of at least ending on an even number! A home test kit confirmed it. Then, just as doubts and fears were rushing towards me, hollering warnings and shoving placards with the number 40 in red – I remembered the lady in the bath and her words. Lady Hope, sister of Gabriel, protector of children, taking a soak in a jaccuzzi to let me know all would be well.
And so it was.