Thursday, May 22, 2014

Happy Birthday Colby Allyn Kelly Propes!

Dear Grandparents,
Today we are celebrating our daughter Colby's 31st birthday. I'm home sick and didn't want to expose her little ones, Cooper and Cassidy to the crud. I baked her favorite angel food cake, and sent it with Ed over to her house. I thought I would also share the story of her birth.

In 1983, Ed was a Lieutenant Commander in the U. S. Navy, who had returned to his Alma Mater the United States Naval Academy, and was teaching in the Mechanical Engineering Department. As it is again this year, it was Commissioning Week, a week of parades, celebrations, dances and, of course, graduation and commissioning.

As a Surface Warfare Officer, Ed was invited to attend a reception honoring the midshipmen who had chosen Surface Line for their initial duty assignments. Then Captain (later rear admiral) Tom and Mar Beth Paulsen were hosting the midshipmen, their families, surface officers stationed at the academy and their wives at their quarters in the yard. I was very pregnant but not due for three weeks so being a 'dutiful' Navy wife I found a lovely silk frock designed carefully by Omar the Tent Maker, very flat comfortable shoes and hauled my bulk to the Paulsen's.

Anyone who has known Mar Beth, will remember how beautifully she decorated her homes. Lovely antiques, seemingly priceless oriental carpets.... I was afraid to sit anywhere for fear that I would never be able to get up again without several officers or midshipman having to come to my rescue. I think Mar Beth was a little nervous too! She seemed to follow me around continuing to ask if I was alright. I just knew she was terrified that I would sit on something and break it or worse yet my water would break and ruin one of those lovely rugs. Admittedly, I was looking at things through pregnancy paranoia. You know how self aware you can be when you are nine months pregnant.

Naval Academy Midshipmen celebrating their graduation and commissioning.
Image from wikipedia
Tired of making trips to the ladies room, and feeling my feet swell in the heat. I persuaded Ed to take me home, assuring him that the Paulsens would only be relieved at our departure. Squeezing into our 1972 super beetle Volkswagen, where I could hardly reach to depress the clutch now that I had to have the seat back so far to accommodate my girth, we headed for home. Stopping to rent a VHS of the "Blues Brothers" for what we anticipated would be a short evening followed by a night of tossing and turning. We sat down on our well worn sofa to watch the movie, me with my feet elevated on the antique Japanese hibachi we used for a coffee table.

Elwood and Jake Blues and the Bluesmobile
image from wikipedia
Now any of you who have watched "Blues Brothers" starring Dan Aykrod and John Belushi know that this is a very funny movie. I did not watch too many scenes before a hearty belly laugh broke my water! A quick call to our obstetrician and we were on our way to Anne Arundel General Hospital at that time located in old town Annapolis.

I was prepped and wheeled into the operating room for my already agreed upon second c-section. It was twenty minutes to midnight on May 21st. The doctor looked at me and asked whether I wanted our baby to be born on the 21st or 22nd. Figuring it was better for them to take their time with the surgery I chose the 22nd.  Baby girl Kelly arrived at 12:19 am.

Notice I said Baby girl Kelly. Ed and I had picked Colby Allen Kelly as the name for a boy. Colby and Allen were the maiden names of my grandmothers who had lobbied long and hard for great grand children and unfortunately not lived to see them. We had left selecting another girls name for after graduation. Remember, we thought we had three more weeks to decide. An exhausted and exhilarated Ed, went home to care for Amanda, summon the relatives, and we decided to wait to name our new baby girl.

Outside forces have a way of butting into life when least expected. While the nurse was examining me three days later, an image Al Schaufelberger, one of Ed's company mates at USNA flashed on the television screen across the room. The sound was muted during the examination so I did not hear what had been said. I called Ed and suggested he look at the television. Much to our sorrow and dismay, the news was very bad.
Lieutenant Commander Albert Schaufelberger, the senior U. S. Naval representative at the U. S. Military Group, El Salvador had been assassinated.
LCDR Schaulfelberger meets the press just days
before his assassination. Photograph from wikipedia
Al had lived is the same neighborhood in Chula Vista, California and we had seen him as Navy schedules allowed. He made a great abalone Parmesan. His death came as quite a shock. As Ed was the only one of his company mates stationed at the Naval Academy at the time, Navy Public Affairs asked him to make comments about Al to the local newspapers and television stations. This even included being interviewed on our front lawn after Colby was brought home.

Back to baby girl Kelly... things got to be so hectic, that we never had the time to hash out different names for our new baby. Finally, the woman in charge of name registration appeared demanding to know, "What are you going to name this critter?" So Colby it was... with a concession to Ed of changing Allen to Allyn which he thought sounded more feminine.  Oh, and critter stuck too, as a nickname with a similar change to a 'y' in "Crytter".
On left, Cecily, Colby in arms of maternal grandmother Betty Werst Cone
 coming home from the hospital to 230 Chatham Lane, Annapolis.
On right, Ed and big sister Amanda holding newborn Colby.
Photographs from my personal collection.
Seven years later our paths were to cross with the Paulsen's again. Ed took command of USS Thorn DD-988 in Charleston, South Carolina. Thorn was attached to Cruiser Destroyer Group 2 commanded by none other than Rear Admiral Paulsen. I like to think that they did not associate the sophisticated Commanding Officer's wife with the very pregnant junior officer's wife they had met in Annapolis. I always thought if my water had broken at the Paulsen's Ed would have had to leave the Navy.

Rear Admiral Thomas D. Paulsen, Commander, Cruiser Destroyer Group 2
attending wreath laying ceremony at a Polish memorial. 27 Jun 1990
Online Public Access for the National Archives
Admiral Paulsen is next to the man in the red shirt.
I think you would be very proud of your grand daughter, as she is a very special Crytter.
Love, Cecily

P. S. We'll also be remembering Al this Memorial Day.

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