According to the crumpled yellowing sheet of paper, smudged with a black blotch representing my mother’s thumbprint and two small side by side blotches, representing my newborn feet, I came into the world on October 2, 1950.When my mother finally gave it to me in my adult years— this very official looking hospital certificate, I imagined it being given out to mothers like a rolled up graduation diploma with a little pink or blue ribbon holding it tight and a few kindly words from the doctor— “Good job!” or “Nicely done!” Likely he had even told my mother, “Exceptional! We look forward to seeing you again next year!”
On the day that those tiny footprints were impressed, I imagine that they were probably indistinguishable from those of half the squalling infants in the overflowing newborns’ nursery at Victoria Hospital in London Ontario. After all, it was early in the baby boom and chubby red- faced infants were heading for the delivery room lights like moths to a lantern!
“What if there was a mix-up?’’ I sometimes wondered as a child, being much more pensive than the usual kid. “What if I’m really not Mummy’s baby after all? What if she is a total stranger who accidentally took me home from the hospital instead of her real baby?” Finally thirty or so years later she handed me all the proof that I had ever needed. Strangely, I no longer required it!
My sister Marsha was 11 months and 3 weeks older than I, and only just beginning to walk when I came along, so when I arrived home to join my family circle as “the baby” there was already another baby on the scene! No doubt she thought at first that I was just one more birthday present!
Marsha’s baby nickname in the family was “My”. Sorry, for any infringement of your privacy in disclosing this Marsha.(I hope its not the key to all of your passwords!) It’s just that it has always been such an honour for me to imagine…to think…no,to quite logically presume that I was the spark that initiated your very first ability to speak! “My!” you mouthed as you stretched out your little arms towards me! “My!” you murmered as you stroked my downy little head, “My!” you squealed, as you attempted to pop me into the dirty laundry basket beside your dolly!
The little white house with the white picket fence with draping red roses growing over it—the house of my mother’s dreams was not completed by their wedding day due to unforseeable delays in getting the land on the family farm severed. Hence there was likely still sawdust on the floor on the day that I was born, a smell that I really love to this very day!
My poor hapless dad didn’t realize it at the time but he was racing against the Field of Dreams law— “If you build it they will come.” He finished his beautifully crafted two bedroom bungalow, yet before the paint was even dry on the door frames he and Mom already had two baby girls. In the next few years a son and then two more daughters filled the house to over-flowing. This was followed by a house exchange with my grandparents who were living in the large yellow brick farm house immediately next door, accomplished, fortunately, before my three youngest siblings, another girl and two more boys arrived— in total eight children in 11 years!
It may be hard to believe that we, as children living in such a large family, each with so few personal possessions in the earlier years that we could likely have fit most of them into our pillowcases, could have been happy, but we were. For the most part we were positively joyful! Our parents loved us and they loved each other. Nothing that they could have given us or we to one another could possibly have been more valuable than that. Others may go ahead and think it, but we know it to be untrue! We were not poor!