The child that never was

George Westminster's child would be 27 years old now...

Back in 1971, after 20 years of solid schooling, I decided I'd had enough and set out in a Volkswagen bus to find myself; to see something of life in another country and enjoy myself. My first foreign experience was in Mexico and I loved it! It was in southern Mexico that I met Maria Louisa. Maria Louisa was Austrian, and beautiful. She had Ph D, was a committed feminist and Marxist Lenninist, and, at the time of our meeting, on her way to Chile to help the recently elected Allende Government. She and I began travelling south together, and became lovers. And so it came to be that Maria Louisa and I, in the southern state of Chiapas Mexico, found out she was pregnant.

I can still feel the secret joy I felt at hearing the news. I was a father... well sort of. At least, the woman I loved was pregnant with my child. I found it oddly affirming as a man. A milestone that, at the age of 26, I was entering a new phase of my life.

Maria Louisa was a modern warrior woman, a shieldmaiden. She was in control of her life, doing what she wanted. While there was room in her life for sex, and perhaps love, there was no room for anything which might sway her from the political and personal path she followed. This foetus, and now the man who put it there, was a threat to this independence. Suddenly, she saw me as part of the International Patriarchy intent on thwarting her desire to assist her Comrades in their "great proletarian struggle". Overnight, I became the enemy. The love she had just professed dried up.

By 1971, I'd already been thoroughly indoctrinated in the newly acclaimed "woman's right to choose", and I knew that I would have no say in whether the pregnancy was to proceed. At the time I didn't even think I had the right to suggest that she not terminate the pregnancy. Even if I had shared my willingness to take complete care of the newborn, from the moment of birth, I knew it would make no difference. Maria Louisa was going to abort this child and go on to Chile. So on a cool, cloudy Mexican evening I handed over the $300 she said would cover the cost of the abortion, and said goodbye to Maria Louisa forever.

As time past, I found myself unconsciously counting the number of years since that event. In 1973, my child would have been 1 year old, and without realising it I wondered what one-year-old problems I would have been trying to deal with. In 1974 I got married. By 1978 I had learnt that my wife was unable to have children and I began to grieve.

It's an all too common story. An early pregnancy terminated, and later, the realisation that no new pregnancies, no matter how longed for, would follow. At 38, I began the dark, difficult task of accepting the fact that I would probably never be a father. Bestowing my love on other people's children, how many times did I hear, "Oh you're so good with children, you should be a father". I had been a father, I wanted to scream, father of a child which never had the chance to see the sky, a flower or its father's face.

Now it's 1999. My child would have been 27 years old, perhaps a parent as well, making me a grandfather. Who knows what it would be like, had things been different.


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