So Margaret asked what I was like as a child. And you know, the quintessential story of me starts – at least as far as I’m concerned – shortly after Christmas 1962.
That’s my mom, my two older brothers and me. What? You don’t mean to tell me you need help finding me in the picture?
Let’s go back a little way in time. My oldest brother would have been what – 9? Yeah, I think so. You’d think I could just subtract but I compute ages in the strangest way. And my younger brother would have been 4 1/2-ish. Mike was actually from my mom’s previous marriage. We were told one story about that our entire lives but when Mom started losing her memory to Alzheimer’s another story came out. Because both of my folks have dementia, and my uncle as well I understand, we’ll never know the truth. Does it matter? Not really. It was pretty rare that anyone thought anything about it. But my meandering point was my parents wanted a daughter and they decided to try one last time for the prize.
And Christmas 1962 my mom was almost 9 months pregnant. In Michigan. Land of snow.
You know, I don’t think I heard many stories of my brothers’ births. I know when Mike was born that no one had ever really explained to Mom what was going to happen. I mean, she grew up on a farm so she knew the physical part but she didn’t know things like that she would bleed afterward and apparently the hospital expected her to have her own supplies. Dave was born in the summer and Mom told a story of her being hugely pregnant and Dad with a broken arm out in the snow trying to shovel the car out. It was Michigan. I figure it was June.
But not me. I was a New Year’s baby and the story of my birth was kind of a holiday tradition. New Year’s babies are pretty much the only ones who know exactly when they were born. I was #11 in the state of Michigan. No free car for me.
The story starts a few days after Christmas, depending on which parent you believe. Mom’s version focuses on the hellishly long labor. She didn’t sleep for three days. Every time they went to the hospital, which was, according to Dad, every time he tried to sleep, they ended up being sent back home. Dad’s story focuses more on how he didn’t sleep. Mom spent those three days (or so) sleeping in between labor and trips to the hospital. Dad took care of the boys and drove Mom back and forth to the hospital. He didn’t sleep for three days. Mom insists that he slept and she suffered.
Finally on New Year’s Eve the blessed event (me) was ready to come out. My mom’s parents came to stay with the boys and Dad drove Mom to the hospital late on New Year’s Eve night, in a blizzard, at some ungodly temperature below zero, at 102 miles per hour. Dad says he really wanted me to be born before midnight for the tax deduction. He blames Dr. Hurd, who was at a New Year’s Eve party and had to be sobered up before he could deliver the baby.
And that is how, in my family, I came to be known as the child who was 6 hours and 58 minutes too late for a tax deduction. And I think it explains a lot about me.
p.s. Margaret. I’ll tell you another story about what I was like as a slightly older child.