On Friday, August 28th I came home from working all day, read, and decided I needed to go ahead and pack my bag for the hospital since I only had around 4 weeks left until delivery. I cleaned the house and when Bud called about 8:00 from work, I told him I wanted him to come home. He decided he would tell his boss that I was in labor and come home and then the next day he could always claim false labor. He got home around 9:00 and we went to bed at 10:00 p.m. We were watching the news laying on this double mattress on the floor in the living room where we slept since that was the only room in the house that had an air conditioning window unit. Around 10:30 I needed to get up and go to the bathroom and my water broke!
Twelve hours later Gabriela Franceta Epps (Bella) was born weighing in at 4 lbs 14 oz and 18 inches long. She was tiny but beautiful. She only had to stay one extra day in the hospital even though the doctors estimated by her size that she was actually 5-6 weeks early (obviously my due date had been wrong by a week or two).
We came home and settled into the role of new parents. Bud was shortly totally wrapped around Bella’s little fingers. Bella was a really easy baby but very independent pretty early on. She didn’t want to sit and cuddle…she wanted to be into everything. I was kind of a neat freak but Bella was always like Linus from Peanuts. Instead of dirt swirling around her, it was her stuff. Bella loved to be surrounded by her stuff everywhere. If she took a nap and I picked up her toys, the first thing she would do upon waking up was to dump it all out and start scattering it.
Bud graduated from AUM when Bella was one with a Bachelor of General Studies degree…and around 75 more hours of classes than he needed. He immediately began to work on his MBA at TSUM.
When Bella was almost two years old, we found out I was pregnant again. I was working at AUM in the School of Nursing by now. Bud was still working on his master’s degree and was working at the Montgomery Housing Authority in the cabinet shop. I was only slightly less sick this go around.
Bud was sure we were going to have another girl. I wasn’t sure because everything seemed so different this time. On Easter Sunday I went into labor. Six hours later, on April 16, 1990 Joseph Elton Epps (Joey) was born weighing in at 7 lbs 9 oz and 21 ½ inches long. We were all surprised and thrilled that he was a boy. Now we had one of each!
Joey was the opposite of Bella. He was a cuddly baby who loved to be held. And he ADORED Bella. He thought she hung the moon and Bella loved her brother so much. They were so very close from the very beginning. Bella couldn’t say Joseph so she called him Jofuss. And that was HER BABY.
As the children grew, God would nudge me from time to time about the necessity of being in church but I would just ignore him. As time went on, I had some very strange ideas about religion. I always knew there was a God, I just was sure that I would have time before I died to apologize and make things right. Or maybe there were ghosts and reincarnation. But always in the back of my mind I knew it was all a lie and if I died I would go to Hell. Bud was at best an agnostic but was pretty quickly turning into an atheist.
Also during this time Bud got a job in management at Wal-Mart, then was laid off, and eventually was rehired but with the Sam’s Clubs division. We moved from Montgomery to Fargo, North Dakota with Sam’s and stayed there a 14 months and then moved to Brandon (Jackson), Mississippi. After 18 months there we finally moved back to Montgomery. Bella was going into third grade and Joey into Kindergarten.