Monday, December 11, 2006

Happy Birthday, Crystal Snow Baby

Welcome to my party today. When I was teaching first grade, those kids wanted to know how old I was. Even though I was only 23 and fresh out of college, they viewed me as "old." They also were quite concrete in their learning, so your age was supposed to reflect in your size and shoe size. Let's just say that with my current age, I could stuff Shaq into a basketball basket--no problem--if that were true. Paul Bunyan, move over.

My mother often told of the day I was born. It was December. Exactly two weeks before Christmas. My father was "on the road" as he had just started a long haul trucking job just a month before. They lived in a trailer down a steep incline. My dad had told my mother to stay with her sister in town(who had four kids, so her house was wild with three boys and a girl--her youngest, later to be my best friend, wasn't born yet,) but she refused. She wanted to be home and I wasn't supposed to come just yet.

Then, the blizzard started.

Of course, the labor pains began. It would appear that I was going to be born at home with my mom by herself (well, I'd be there soon to keep her company.) She got to the hospital, being a hardy sort. Despite snow, a slippery hill she didn't think they were going to make it up and her husband "out" where she couldn't contact him (this was a long time before cell phones and pagers. Come to think of it, I don't think mom even had a phone. She had to use a neighbor's,) she made it with time to spare. I wish I could ask details now, but my dad, my aunt and my mom are now all gone, as well as the doctor. (They were the only ones who might remember.) It seems that I have more questions now that I'm older. If your mom is still around, now is the time to ask about all of those details. (And if you have kids, tell or write them all the details of how they came to be with you.)

The doctor decided it was going to be awhile. He left instructions with the nurse to "yell out the window" at him when it was time, because he suited up in his hunting duds and went rabbit hunting on the grounds outside the hospital. The snow had slowed and it was going to be awhile."First baby" and all. When the time came, they gave mom something called "Twilight" which didn't exactly put you out, but made pain less and sort of threw you for a "loop." Having had four babies myself, I tried to imagine this on top of trying to grab a tiger by the tail. Phew.

The nurse yelled out the window, probably just as the doc (Dr. Dillon) was drawing a bead on his supper (or part of Mrs. Dillon's new fur coat--he was a practical sort, you see.) I was born and my dad arrived a short time later, as his company had found him and sent him home. Mom cried (she claimed it was her drug-induced state,) "It's a girrrrrrrrrrrrrrrl," like Dad would be disappointed. My Dad told her, "That's ok. I love her, anyway."

So, this is my fifth birthday in the photo, and as you can see, my stubborn mother also finally had her boy--and she only having one lobe of one lung left. She had him by C-section. Her doctor (same guy) had ordered a therapeutic abortion because with her delicate health after surviving TB and losing all but that one lobe of lung, plus with Wild Thang 1 (me) to look after, he was convinced that she could not carry a baby without killing her. Having lost so many babies, and then getting the "disappointing" girl, well, she couldn't possibly even consider this procedure. While the doctor was on the phone with the surgeon, Mom calmly got up, got dressed and slipped out of the office. As she was leaving, she looked him in the eye and said,"I'm having this baby." Tough lady. She didn't say he smiled, but having heard a lot of stories about Dr. Dillon, I like to think that he did.

Every birthday Mom made me a special cake. I was Queen for the Day. Since it was always cold, perhaps snowing, and only 2 weeks before Christmas, it was tough to make my birthday too much of a celebration. A few of my birthday photos were taken outside as that was before the arrival of flash cameras. As you can see at the bottom of the photograph, our milk delivery box was from Hoosier Dairy company.

I can also remember presents I received(yeah, still got my memory.) One year I got a Swiss chalet jewelry/music box that played "The Blue Danube" and had a ballerina that popped up. I got a blue zircon birthstone ring from my Grandparents that was stolen by a neighbor girl. I got a complete "gold" flatware set and tea set one year complete with a little table. Oh, yeah, and one year I got a set of tires on the car that my dad let me drive. (Boy, howdy.) I still have the note from that birthday, informing me of what he had done. Dad was especially proud of that gift. I can laugh now (and understand better.) One year I got a guitar. My oldest son learned to play on that guitar, too.

For my first birthday, mom said they commemorated the special day by purchasing a record player stereo. It was portable, but even when I grew up, I couldn't lift it alone. It automatically played a whole stack of albums and 45's. We listened to a lot of country (Johnny Cash,) The Green Onion, Nancy Sinatra's "Boots are Made for Walking," Patsy Cline, and many, many others. It sat on top of a washstand that my dad eventually refinished.

My Mom had five miscarriages before I was born. The last baby, though dead, didn't deliver. Mom insisted the baby "was not dead" and carried it nearly a week after the doctor wanted to do the procedure to deliver my sibling. She would be depressed for some time after that. That was when a new drug was discovered that they believed would prevent miscarriages.

My mother took the drug diethylstilbestrol, or commonly referred to as DES for over 7 months. Mostly, it was given in the first trimester, but since my mother had miscarried in the second trimester, she took it well into the last trimester. I got the full whammy. Well, it turns out that not only did this drug not help in preventing miscarriages, later it was discovered to cause a rare form cancer in the daughters. Mom carried horrendous guilt over that, but I always told her that she was doing what, at the time, was supposed to save my life. Lots of people get cancer and no one even knows why. So, I have never worried about it.

Also, supposedly, daughters exposed to this drug would miscarry or wouldn't be able to conceive. God must've laughed over that one. I did have one miscarriage, but carried four boys to term. You can see them doing their typical "bunny ears" behind me on one of my past birthdays. My mother wasn't at this celebration, and my mother-in-law took over the special cake-making. This happens to be a specially homemade angel food cake with her super-light fluffy frosting. I particularly like her cinnamon-laced angel food cakes. This was my first birthday without my mother on earth. She had died in April, and my birthday is in December.

All I can say is that I'm really happy someone finally invented a flash camera so I didn't have to stand outside in the Indiana weather for my annual photo. Yeah, progress is good. (And now we have GPS and cell phones, and can even see the baby before it is born and put their ultrasound image on cookies...)


1000 Gifts....

Today I can put down a few tangible gifts, too. (smile)

267. My email box filled with birthday greetings from all over (Thanks!)and even an IM from far away
268. Fun memories from my roommate from college
269. a nice leather and sherpa-lined jacket (warm and chic)
270. funniest email card I have ever seen (thank you, W)I laughed and laughed! (and I didn't think I felt like laughing...)
271. a box filled with custom-made ceramic stoneware from Linda's kiln (LOVE IT)
272. my 92-year-old grandmother remembering my birthday and sending a card
273. coffee in my new rose mug
274. a mild day for December--no snow in sight
275. Melba, Imy, Tina and the BEAUTIFUL Nativity set (Willow Tree)
276. Bringing it by my house special so I could set it up for Christmas
277. Deep conversations with my oldest son about family stories
278. healthy kids
279. bright and cheery kids
280. celebration of another birth a long time ago--Jesus
281. Hark, the Harold Comer Sings (an old familiar carol from my youth and Harold sings in heaven's choir now)
282. Christmas lights in town
283. the river and its sounds
284. my Rod Frederick moose print that I look at every day
285. crushed ice and water with lime slices (love lime)
286. cute Christmas card photo from the Joey Summitts' house
287. a computer that is still running (where to, I don't know)
288. my comfy Mackinac Shoreline Division (45' North by 84' West) hooded sweatshirt I put on almost every morning to take my dog out in the dark
289. Cutey-pie Kaylee's school picture (now up above my desk)
290. the photo of my favorite house ripped from the newspaper pinned up above my computer that I look at every day
291. casual photos of all my guys tacked up above my computer
292. motorcycle jacket--it is so cooool
293. thinking about goals and realizing that maybe I can accomplish them
294. the last birthday card from my dad tacked up on my bulletin board with words to cherish for a lifetime
295. lots of good birthday memories
296. Sheryl Root's birthday yesterday! (Glad you're here!)
297. spaghetti for supper last night
298. feeling hunger and knowing I can eat any time
299. turning on a faucet and fresh, clean water coming out
300. indoor "facilities" (yes, I do remember the outside kind...)
301. flash on cameras
302. insulation in houses
303. favorite Levi's jeans
304. cool earrings
305. my special "name" purse in red I got last year's birthday (looks new)
306. how special I feel when I see some of these things
307. my new goals for this year's writing
308. the hope of accomplishing them
309. Hanna's note
310. another year to mark


Sheryl said...

Oh, you are just so cute with that birthday cake! :-)

I remember all the great cakes my mom used to make for my birthday parties when I was little (before she stopped baking LOL). I had a clown cake, and an elephant, and a bunny ... Fun!

This year we went for the Sara Lee strawberry cheesecake, which while not homemade, was really yummy!

Thanks for the birthday blessings!

Terry Whalin said...

What a great birthday post. Thank you, Crystal.

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Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday!!!

(sorry I'm late)

I hope you had a wonderful birthday!

Sabrina L. Fox said...

ACK!!! How did I miss your birthday??? This is just very very bad. ;) I love you, girl. Hope you had a great day.