Back to the Story:
We arrived home from the hospital to our wonderful apartment and everyone went out litnessing, leaving me and the new baby at the apartment. My job was to prepare dinner for everybody when they came home. I don't think anyone knew just how difficult it was to be up and about cooking but no matter, I did it anyway. Baby C was a delightful quiet baby. He would stay quietly in his stroller as we ate our dinner together at the big table. Occasionally I would rock the stroller back and forth to keep the baby settled. The boys in the home had lots of outside girlfriends. One of the girls was an opera singer and was involved in the current opera season going on at the roman theatre at Piazza Bra. She was a sweet girl and visited us many times. She liked holding the baby.
After a week of being home, we were visited by the Conte family (they were the Italian/American family with the husband being a former priest). The wife told me to pack up my stuff because she was taking me and the baby to her house so that she could take care of us. I was delighted to go with her but also apprehensive because I had just began to settle back in with my house mates. I was trying to fit in with the Italian house mates but was concerned that my absences were making it harder.
The first days with Mrs Conte were interesting. Their house was an old farm house, the barn really. It was two stories with the door at the end of the upper story hallway opening to a sheer drop to the ground below. She told me that they were going to build a balcony on. I tried to take a bath but kept getting the faucet handles mixed up. C did not stand for cold as I thought, but instead stood for hot. It was confusing so I ended up taking a cold bath. I was too timid to call for help when I couldn't get the temperature regulated correctly.
The Conte's daughter was so happy I was there. She brought her Italian cousin over to see the baby and we spent time down in the courtyard sitting at the cement garden table talking. Everything seemed so happy and nice. The Conte's were the nicest people. Mr Conte told stories about being a priest, about loving God, about meeting Mrs Conte when she came to him for counselling when her husband died. How they fell in love and what it felt like to ask to be released from his vows so that he could marry her. They told me stories about what it was like to start life over, how their friends had all been former priests and nuns, about strange spiritual events that took place in their lives, the walking statue of saint somebody that liked to watch television in their living room when they lived in California. I really liked the Conte' family and they appeared to really like me.
After visiting with the cousin for awhile I excused myself to go take a nap with the baby. We were asleep in the upstairs bedroom that they had given me when Mrs Conte called me down to the kitchen. I was extremely drowsy as I went down to join her at the kitchen table. Mrs Conte told me that she had just had a phone conversation with a friend of hers, about the Family. She told me that her friend had informed her of what a magazine had just came out with about the Family. Mrs Conte then outlined for me the entire belief system, the entire FFing operation, the entire sex thing within the Family....everything. I sat in numb silence and listened to her. I'm sure my face was beet red and I was filled with shame. She then asked me point blank if these things were true. I could have lied but I didn't. I very quietly said, yes. Yes, it was all true, every bit of it. I had never been so ashamed before in my life. For the first time since joining the Family I was face to face with the obsurdity of our beliefs. I didn't have the group around me with all of the group approval of our wierd life style. I was facing full-on the shock and horror from some very decent people that I truly liked.
Mrs Conte then said that she could no longer allow her daughter to visit us. I said that I understood. There were a few other things that she said to me but I don't remember what they were. I then went back upstairs with the baby. In the early evening I woke up from a nap but didn't feel well. I told Mrs Conte that I didnt' feel good. She felt my forehead and took my temperature. She asked if I had put the thermometer on the heater because I had a fever that was extremely high, high to the point of danger. Mrs Conte put me and the baby in the car and drove us down to Verona, to the hospital. I remember watching out the window as we drove through the country side, everything was fuzzy and blurry colors rushing by. I was wondering if I was dying because I felt so odd.
At the hospital we went to the emergency room. Mrs Conte stayed with me until it was determined that I was being admitted. Then she left and I never saw her again. Baby C and I were admitted to the hospital again because I had gotten an infection. They didn't have a spare room but cleaned out a storage closet and put in a bed with a bassinet for the baby. Every day I laid there with IV's going and trying to care for the baby with only use of one arm. I was hooked up for approximately 5 hours and then they would take out the needle. After awhile I didn't have veins anymore and they had to get creative to get the IV in. Trust me, you don't ever want a nun to get creative with your veins. I got shots every place that you can get shots and I was a purple bruise laying in bed.
At some point someone from the home came to visit me. They said that Meshach was being thrown out of the home. I don't believe the reasons that they gave. I just knew that I was losing a friend in the home. He came to see me before he left and we didn't see each other again for over twenty years.
During this hospital stay the brand new Pope died and they elected a new one. I think the nuns were rather in shock this time around. It didn't feel so much like a party atmosphere like with Pope John Paul I. Again I was a captive audience to this Catholic event.
My days were rather simple in the hospital. I had no television, no radio, only my Bible and my baby. Everyday the nuns would bring me several food trays for each meal. They were convinced that I was so skinny because I was starved and they were going to fatten me up. I was given vitamin shots on a daily basis and the IVs were for amino acids along with the antibiotics for the infection. I would lay there during the IV treatments and sing to the little guy for hours. I sang every song I could think of and I think it became a running joke with the hospital staff.
Finally I was cured and they released me to go home. I had been in the hospital two weeks this time. No one came with a taxi this time and I had to catch a bus. I let myself into the apartment and began to prepare dinner for that night.
There was nothing I wanted more than to go back to Rome, to find Elkanahs group and to get away from Verona. I wanted to fit in there at Verona, but it didn't work out that way. I wasn't really wanted. I do have to say that Sara(Ornella) had been a wonderful roommate. She helped me so much with the new baby. But I just wasn't able to shed the stigma of being an American in a home of Italians. So I called up Jezreel and told him that I was coming. He sent me some money to buy train tickets and I made arrangements to leave.
The final clincher of pain was when Elia BurnFree the shepherd of the home told me that I couldn't take my babybed that had been given to me. He said that he had a sister coming who had a baby and he wanted the bed for her baby. I couldn't take anything with me. I was so hurt that he didn't care that he was basically stealing from my baby and also that they had already replaced me in the home. I think it was arranged while I was still in the hospital.
So off to Rome....