by Hitman 44077
The Flash’s travels took him through Central City and Fallville, dropping off his Christmas cards, and in a few cases he also caught up with a few of the folks he’d dropped off cards to, such as Henry and Nora Allen, Darryl Frye, Frank Curtis, and Patty Spivot. But one of his last stops this day was going to play a pivotal role in Wally West’s life.
I know I’m going to be seeing Grandpa tomorrow, but with how I was feeling earlier about Grandma Nadine, he may be feeling it worse, the Flash thought as he came to a stop in front of Professor Ira West’s home in Blue Valley. As he approached the front door of his grandfather’s home, the Flash saw his grandfather sitting on his couch with a picture frame in one hand and his other hand covering his eyes.
Oh, no, the Scarlet Speedster thought with compassion, his own thoughts returning to what he’d spoken about earlier to his girlfriend. I’d never just let myself into someone’s home normally, but Grandpa’s clearly distraught. It’s been a rough year for all of us.
With his powers still limited to being as fast as the speed of sound, the Flash knew vibrating through the front door of his grandfather’s home wasn’t a viable option. He checked the front door and, seeing that it was unlocked, let himself in and walked toward him. “Grandpa?” Wally asked after removing his mask.
“Wally?!” the Professor cried with surprise before recovering. “I — I’m sorry for shouting at you, lad.”
“Grandpa, I understand,” Wally compassionately replied as he sat down by his grandfather and put a comforting arm around him. “I was thinking of Grandma Nadine myself earlier. I’m guessing that the picture you’re holding is of her.”
Ira looked over at Wally, his lips trembling as the tears returned, and it was then that Wally saw just what the picture was in the picture frame: his grandmother in her younger years holding a newborn baby girl that appeared to be stillborn. This was clearly an old family secret that Ira and Nadine West had lived with for many, many years, and now, Wally West himself was only the second person since then to learn of this. (*) Shock gave way to sadness on the young man’s face, but he did his best to comfort his grandfather.
[(*) Editor’s note: Iris West learned of this lost child when she discovered she was a foundling from the far future; see “The Flash’s Wife is a Two-Timer,” The Flash v2 #203 (February, 1971).]
“Grandpa… I never knew that you and Grandma Nadine had another baby,” Wally said, wiping a tear from his eye. “I’m guessing she predated Aunt Iris.”
Ira placed the picture frame onto his coffee table and spoke to his grandson. “Wally, my memory isn’t the greatest, and hasn’t been for a number of years, but that is a day I’ll never forget. Your dad and your aunt, Robert and Charlotte, were both born healthy, but this little one faced an uphill battle. Your Grandma Nadine had toxemia in her last trimester, and both of their lives were in danger. Even being on bedrest and taking every single precaution we could wasn’t enough. Nadine lived, though I don’t think she would have ever lived as long a life as I, but–” Ira’s voice had begun to shake; he tried to continue, but the words wouldn’t come.
“Grandpa, shh… I understand,” Wally said with compassion as he hugged his grandfather. “I know enough about toxemia from one of the prenatal health classes I took when I was in college a few years back. While much has been learned about how to combat it, there’s just as many factors that wouldn’t have been known when this little one was on her way.”
Ira calmed down enough to respond to Wally, with a look of genuine gratitude and appreciation. “Wally, Nadine and I lived with this for the rest of our lives. Even after we were blessed with Iris, that loss was still at times as tragic as it was that day long ago… especially at Christmastime. We never told your dad or your aunts about it, though Iris eventually found out.”
“Have you thought about telling Dad or Aunt Charlotte?” Wally asked. “I mean, I’ll never tell them, since that’d be a breach of trust, but this is their little sister, just as Aunt Iris was.”
Ira paused, as if he was weighing in real-time, how the reactions of such a reveal could potentially alienate his surviving children. “Wally… I — I don’t know if I can. Maybe if Nadine was still with us, or — or Iris and Barry,” Ira said as his mind went back to the three of them passing untimely, even as he squeezed his eyes shut.
Wally nodded slowly and put his hand on his grandfather’s back while speaking. “There’s no easy way to approach this, Grandpa, but I think I can speak for Dad and maybe Aunt Charlotte. This isn’t some family shame… this is a tragic situation that has haunted you and Grandma Nadine for so long, and in Grandma’s case, it was for the rest of her life. What did you and Grandma Nadine name her, if you don’t mind me asking?”
“Dawn,” Ira whispered as he closed his eyes once more. “We named her Dawn Marie West. She’s buried right next to your Grandma at the Blue Valley Cemetery, but we never placed a marker. You have to remember that in those times most children miscarried or stillborn were simply acknowledged as ‘Baby Last Name’ — West, for example — but not as humanely as it’s become in the years since with a whole name.”
“Then that’s going to be my gift to her… my Aunt Dawn,” Wally said with determination, pulling his mask back on. “I’ll be back in a few.”
Before Ira could respond, the Flash raced off and — recalling a conversation he’d had with Jay Garrick when the pair spoke after the five Earths had been separated via a telecom — he dug up a small foundation for a small marker and handcrafted said marker for his aunt. The Flash sped up the process as best he could with his current top speed in mind so that the concrete foundation was settled in a matter of minutes.
Jay told me how he honored Barry on Earth-Two, and it just makes sense to do as best a tribute as I can to her… just as we did for Aunt Iris and Barry. (*) And now, one more little touch, the Crimson Comet thought after the small marker was secured. A few seconds later, a tiny Christmas tree top was added between the graves of Nadine West and her infant daughter. He then sped back to his grandfather’s home and brought him to the cemetery to show his grandfather the tribute he’d done for his grandmother and aunt.
[(*) Editor’s note: See The Flash: The Funeral of Barry Allen.]
Ira saw the loving tribute his grandson put together for him in honor of Nadine and Dawn and smiled as tears of love and remembrance dropped. The Flash smiled, too, as a tear dropped from his eye, and he said, “Grandpa, I want you to be aware that I’m still honoring my word, and I won’t breach it. I also know this tribute may raise some questions that you may not be ready to address. I have a friend in the Justice League named Zatanna — she’s quite a sorceress, and I think until a time you’re ready to tell Dad and Aunt Charlotte about Dawn, she can make this appear as it did before to all eyes but ours. It just so happens I’ll be seeing her tonight at a Christmas Eve party later, so there’ll be no issues. Merry Christmas, Grandpa.”
Ira smiled again, hugging his grandson as he said, “Merry Christmas to you, Wally. And God bless us everyone.”