April 2018

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

March 13, 1964

On the day I was born, Mom’s forty-five minute public bus ride to Grady Hospital in Atlanta must have been uncomfortable as she rode to give me birth. (She was nine months pregnant and thought she was having intestinal distress.)

I hear the hours of labor were no luxury cruise either. (Carol Burnett once compared giving birth to blowing a bowling ball out of a nostril.)

I was born on the thirteenth floor of Grady hospital’s White wing on Friday, March 13, 1964, so I have always considered thirteen my lucky number. For me, being born was lucky.
 My parents, because they were White, took the front entrance while African-Americans took a back entrance into the hospital. President Johnson signed “The Civil Rights Act of 1964” that June, and though racial integration comes slowly in the South, I’m pretty sure that little White babies and little Black babies can now lie in cribs next to one another. How strange the separation of the babies seems now.

I am the first child of two first children, so in my first years, my parents and I are a young family of type-A personalities: perfectionists, anxious about success, planners committed to a plan. We control our destinies. It is our responsibility to be good and to do good in the world.

When I was born, Dad was a 27 year-old pediatric intern in the Air Force, and Mom was 22 years old, an army nurse released from her duties because she was pregnant.

The first thing my dad said when he saw me was, "She's a beautiful girl. With a big nose." You will be relieved to know that I have grown into my nose over the last 47 years. In fact, now my nose is remarkably small.

Lots of other things have changed over the years, too. I'm taller and wider than I was then. I have a larger vocabulary. Though we didn't know it, I had a brain tumor then. I don't now.

Here's to this lucky life!


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