Excerpts from Lady's Hands, Lion's Heart
Epilogue ~ 2008
Carol and Milan at the Health Center, 1977
The Health Center, where the seeds of my career were sown, continues to be a beehive of activity, even after thirty years of dedicated service to women. The name has changed from New Hampshire Women's Health Service to Concord Feminist Health Center. The women on the staff are smart and cheerful, compassionate and brave. They have survived arson and protesters and are ever committed to improving women's lives. They have gotten very sophisticated in their approach to women's health care. For further information, go to www.feministhealth.org.
Dr. Francis Brown and Carol, circa 1993
Dr. Brown died peacefully in 1995. I believe he was happy in his elder years. He was always a fixture in Henniker, sitting on the bench in the middle of town in front of New England College, chatting with all the townspeople. After all, Francis delivered half of the town. He still had a bushy white beard and still looked for all the world like Santa Claus. I miss him still.
Carol and Sue Bartlett, circa 1979
Susie ran the Concord Midwifery Service for years after I left. She worked by herself for over a decade, doing what she loved, until she got sick of not making any money at it. She went back to school and became a registered nurse. Now she is a high-octane OB-nurse at the "Big House," which is what I call Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon. They get the train wrecks from all over the state. She is still midwifing the women, only now it's the high-risk women. She has aged gracefully; she is having fun in her "old lady" years. She sea kayaks in the summer, skis in the winter, and trains for marathons. Now she is Susan Bartlett, RN.
Ken's practice, Women's Health Care Associates, PA, continued on for a year before they closed. The nurse-midwives were committed to attending all the mothers who were enrolled with them at the time of Ken's death. Gerry Hamilton, MD, very generously agreed to be their backup for that year. The midwives had zero cesarean sections for the year. Gerry is retired now. He still is encrusted with turquoise-and-silver jewelry, still wears cowboy boots. He is still supporting women through his work as a board member of the CFHC. A lot of his spare time is spent raising orchids--or bugging me.
The apprentice, Raven, lives in Montpelier, Vermont. She had another child, a boy this time. She is still with her young man. She never did go on to become a midwife. Instead, she became an incredible healer, doing intense cranial-sacral work. She still has magic hands. She is the one I go to when I have a mystery ailment. She is a beautiful, loving woman.
The New Hampshire midwives were forced to re-do their legislation in 1999 to evolve to a licensing process. Out of a potentially scary situation came a wonderful development. The legislature created for the state's midwives the New Hampshire Midwifery Council, which is a completely autonomous regulatory board and state agency governing midwifery practice. It was the first independent Board of Midwifery in the United States. For further information, go to www.NHmidwives.org.
First MANA Board, circa 1982
Left to Right: Susan Leibel, Teddy Charvet, Ina May Gaskin, Carol Leonard
The Midwives Alliance of North America is still going strong; it withstood the tests of time. I read excerpts from Lady's Hands, Lion's Heart at MANA's twenty-fifth anniversary celebration. It is still an umbrella professional organization for midwives in the United States, Canada, and Mexico. For further information, go to www.MANA.org.
My mother was married to Ken's father for several years before Mac died at age eighty-six. My mom is in her mid-eighties now, and she is a pistol. She is a snowbird, living in Florida in the winter and in her adorable little cottage in my backyard in Maine in the summer. She is independent and runs around with all her girlfriends. She hasn't slowed down one bit.
Milan is a grown man. He is smart and funny and is extremely handsome. He is a talented musician and lives in Maine
Ken and Carol on their wedding day, Fall 1982
And I...I lost my mind for quite some time. I knew I had to stop working before I hurt someone. My grief was much too raw for me to be able to take care of others. I had to heal myself. I built a lodge out of woven saplings at the base of the Tree. I covered the saplings with tarps and made a fire pit in the center. I stayed there for the better part of a year without speaking much.
Looking back on this, it seems a little insane, but I had the support of my family and friends. It was a painful time but also a time of intense healing, living in the beauty of the forest. The Tree and the deer and the pileated woodpeckers and the coydog all healed me. I began to recover.
I had a spiritual decade, where I delved deeply into women's spirituality and the blood mysteries. I went back into midwifery practice in the late nineties. I opened my birth center, Longmeadow Farm Birthing Home, and attended births at my home.
Longmeadow Staff (2001): Debi Sanborn, NHCM, Danielle Demeter, CNM,
um...yow, Patricia Salisbury, M.D.
Midwives at Longmeadow Farm Birthing Home
I'm OK; I made it through. I'm happy now. I am married to a wild French Canadian redneck builder, Tom Lajoie. Tom is eighteen years my junior. Actually, Tom and his family lived across the street from Ken and me when we lived in the little farmhouse in Concord. Little Tommy was my "handyboy" when he was young; he stacked my wood. He says he's been in love with me since he was eleven.
Tom Lajoie and Carol on their wedding day, Bar Harbor, Maine, 2005
Photo by Anne Dickinson
Tom and I have a four-hundred-acre parcel of land in Ellsworth, Maine, that we are making into a tree farm. We are doing sustainable harvesting, and Tom has a sawmill there. We have named the land Bad Beaver Farm.
Ken McKinney on Lake Lauzon, Ontario, Canada
And Ken ... Ken lives on forever in the hearts and minds of the lives he touched with his loving hands and his gentle way. He will never be forgotten.