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v v CHAPTER 12 Honey W hen Donna became pregnant, both of us were elated. I loved putting my hand on her belly and feeling our baby move. Honey was ecstatic and could not wait to become a grandmother . The employees at the Boys Ranch town office threw a baby shower for us. Donna’s obstetrician, Dr. Hands, told us that he planned to induce labor and asked us what day we wanted our child to be born. I suggested May 24 because it was my mother’s birthday. He said that it would not be a good day for him, but he would deliver the baby on May 25. Karl was getting married on May 25 in Abilene, so unfortunately , Donna and I couldn’t be there. On the morning of May 24, 1973, Donna went into labor. I drove her to Northwest Texas Hospital. Dr. Hands arrived and said, “Well, I guess God wanted the twenty-­ fourth.” I called Honey to tell her that Donna was in labor. She was on her way to Karl’s wedding in Abilene, so she stopped every thirty minutes along the way to call me from a pay phone for an update. I stayed with Donna in her room and held her hand through the labor pains. She looked so beautiful, and I loved her so much. At 4:46 p.m., our son was born. It was the happiest day of my life. I was twenty-­ five years old. The first time I saw David was through my camera lens; I was taking pictures as the nurses rolled Donna out of the delivery room. I wanted to cherish that moment forever. I called Honey and told her that she was finally a grandmother; now she had a grandson, born on her birthday. She said she would come see us as soon as Karl’s wedding Honey • 117 was over. I will never forget the look on Honey’s face when she held her grandson for the first time. I put my hand on her shoulder and reminded her that she had a lot to live for. Donna and I didn’t have much, but we were very happy. We lived in a small rental house in Amarillo. I couldn’t wait to get home from work every day to spend time with our son. A year later, Honey married Louis Joyce in Fort Worth. Louis was much older than my mother. He was hard of hearing, and whenever Honey started drinking, he just turned off his hearing aid. Donna, David, and I drove to Fort Worth on May 24 so my mother and my son could celebrate their birthdays together. Honey had baked a cake and wrote in icing, “Happy Birthday Honey & David” on the top. She was crazy about David and held him every chance she got. On the evening of their birthday, Honey got drunk again. She was very depressed. When she and I were alone, she told me again, “I am tired of living.” “But now you have your grandson, plus you have Louis. You have so much more to live for.” My son, David, was born on Honey’s birthday. Courtesy of the Sarpalius family. 118 • The Grand Duke from Boys Ranch “But I’m so unhappy. I don’t want to live anymore.” I knew she was suicidal again. We sat talking on the couch all night, and she finally fell asleep with her head in my lap. The next morning, she made breakfast for all of us. I looked at Louis and prayed that he had the patience to help my mother. But Louis said he could not tolerate her drinking and didn’t know what to do with her. I promised Louis I would try to find a place where we could get Honey some help. But I wasn’t very hopeful. Texas still ranked last in the nation in treatment centers for substance abuse. When it was time for us to leave, Honey gave me a big kiss and hug and told me she loved me. We were so close and had such a strong bond; I swore I knew what she was thinking at times. “Hang in there,” I whispered. “With God’s help, you’ll find happiness.” “I hope so,” she said. “I have nothing to live for.” “Look at your grandson!” I told her. Honey walked over to Donna, who was holding David. Donna handed David to Honey, and she held...


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