It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.
In 1965, my mom made a choice. (No, it wasn’t whether to keep me or give me up.)
“Do you want to have your baby on Oct. 28 or Oct. 31?” asked her doctor. (In 1965, Oct 28 was Friday and Oct 31 was Halloween and a Monday). Being the semi-staunch Catholic she was, I was born on Oct. 28. C-section of course.
So began my life, a life, in which being the youngest of four children, choices were made for me most of the time.
I had two older brothers and an older sister. My youngest brother, Brian, thought it his duty to take care of me, protect me mostly. And although there is a picture of my oldest brother Kevin holding me in his lap and my mom insists he loved me as a baby, the show of love faded to a ‘no-one-can-tease-my-sister-relentlessly-but-me’ kind of feeling mighty quick.
From my earliest moments of remembrance, much of my learning was from Kevin. For example, in 1970, at the age of five, I learned that brown soap is not a Hershey candy bar. Of course the lesson came after I ate it, at the insistence of of my big brother that it was a Hershey candy bar. Do you know what happens to a five year old who eats brown soap? She misses a day of kindergarten and throws up a lot. Lesson learned.
I also learned that if you eat watermelon seeds, a watermelon grows inside your stomach. Kevin even backed it up with proof: one day when I was six, my brother pointed out a fat lady and said she ate a watermelon seed and now a watermelon was growing in side her. (She was actually pregnant. But at six years old, what did I know.) I didn’t eat watermelon seeds, or watermelon for that matter, for many years.
Kevin also insisted I was adopted. He told me this story many times through the years, always out of my mother’s ear shot. When I was 11 I asked my mother if I was adopted. She laughed and said “I distinctly remember giving birth to you.” ( I found out when I had my first child (1988) that my mother was knocked out cold with drugs before I was born. Apparently, that was the norm for C-sections in 1965.)
It was a rocky start but I made it! I eat watermelons but not soap; I feel assured I was actually born into my family and married a man who teased me relentlessly, until the children came along!