Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Boys and Their Equipment

Tuesday, May 18, 1971:  my mom wakes up feeling as though she is no longer pregnant. Yet, she is in fact, still pregnant, and in labor.  It's business as usual though on this Tuesday what with two toddlers on hand. Being in labor merely means that there are preparations to be made. Mom spends the day doing the usual chores and taking my sisters on a mile walk to the neighbors in the afternoon. Then, there is dinner to be cooked, children to be bathed and pajamas to be donned before dropping the girls at a friends house on the way to the hospital.

By the time mom and dad are enroute to the hospital, I'm practically crowning. The ride to the hospital is uncomfortable to say the least with dad being upset that mom hadn't informed him sooner that it was "time". They make it though. The nurses tell my mom not to push since the doctor isn't there yet.

The doctor barely arrives to the hospital before out I popped. This is the same doctor who delivered my two older sisters. Being the third child, the doctor is aware that there are hopes for a boy.  Once born, Dr. Thompson announces to my mom that "this little boy is missing some basic equipment!" His way of telling my mom that she now has three daughters. Brave man telling jokes to a women who just squeezed a watermelon out of a garden hose!

There I was, at 8:47pm on the 18th. 1 year and 363 days before my middle sister turned two, and two months before the oldest turned four. We were on the two year plan. 

Mom enjoyed a luxurious three days in the hospital before returning home. The nurses made fun of my hair (apparently it stuck straight out in every direction) and various aunts and uncles made fun of my name. "Heather" wasn't as popular back then. My parents had a system for naming the babies -- Dad offered up choices and Mom had veto power. When my oldest sister was born, Dad suggested Heather. Mom vetoed that and Rhonda Ann was thus named. When the second one came along, Dad again suggested Heather. Another veto vote and Jeanise Lynn was christened. And then there was me: Heather Eileen. Had any of us been boys though, we would have been in trouble as Dad's chosen name for a son was LaVoice. 

Skip ahead to my 27th year. It's 1998 and my mom and I are attending the memorial service for my great uncle Albert. Mom and I are loitering in the lobby before the service starts, when she elbows me and points down the hall. "Look, Dr. Thompson is here. He's the doctor who delivered you girls." 


We walk over to the doctor and introductions are made. I shake the doctor's hand and say, "Hi, I'm the little boy who is missing some basic equipment."


The doctor releases my hand and politely chuckles. He either has no recollection of having said that to my mother, or thinks I have gender identity issues and is wondering why I'm announcing this at a memorial service. 

The doctor makes appropriate memorial service chit chat before he hastily leaves. 

I turn to my mom, feeling quite proud of myself, to see her staring at me wide-eyed with a dropped jaw. 

"I cannot believe you said that!" she tells me in hushed tones. "We are at Uncle Albert's memorial!"

"But he said it first" I defend myself. "It's funny -- I was quoting HIM!" 

Mom shakes her head, sighs, and walks inside. "It was funny!" I whisper yell after her. "He said it first!" 

I thought the whole thing had a nice full circle feeling to it. How often do you get to meet the first person that saw you enter the world?  Kinda cool. Not to mention, hilarious! 

Not everyone is amused by me.

My mom though, really shouldn't have been shocked by what I said. This is the woman, who when told at church (her husband's congregation, nonetheless) that a young man had overdosed on LSD and while recuperating at Napa State Hospital didn't want anyone to touch him because he thought he was an orange and was afraid someone might peel him, laughed. Out loud. At church. 

Is it any wonder I do what I do? 

And so it's my birthday. Another year gone by, another trip made around the sun. Thankfully we'll be seeing some sun today in Fairbanks. The temperature is set to hit 70 degrees and the trees are finally starting to "greenup". It's gonna be a good day. Thank you for celebrating with me in person or thought -- I look forward to spending another 40 with y'all.

This was my favorite dress as a kid (made by mom)
because it had a bonnet just like Laura Ingalls Wilder
on Little House on the Prairie.


  1. You have certainly been the highlight of our lives and we have enjoyed every minute of your first 40 years!! Dad and I laughed so hard that Dad was crying and I peeped my pants. Must run in the family!! Love you! M

  2. Heather, I couldn't stop laughing reading this. Having had 3 boys, I sure appreciated the humor! EMG