This is a story that has been told ad infinitum in my family. It is a reminder to me of the type of thing one should never tell a child or a student. This is not a true criticism of my mom, she just didn’t know better. It has always annoyed me when someone says, for example, that they wanted a son and got a daughter. It has bothered me if a child is told, “You were a mistake.” As a teacher, it is wrong to say, “You will never mater this concept or language.” These statements, to me, are untenable and should never be uttered. There is nothing worse for someone than to grow up thinking that he/she was not meant to be or is incapable of doing something. It is not for us to say. It is a cloudy malignancy that no one should have to deal with in any way.
My mother’s story doesn’t make me feel as bad as the previous statements would have made me feel, but I still think that it sets a tone that is really not all that nice. Again, that was not her intent and sensitive person that I am, I am doing my utmost to keep that in mind.
It was Christmas eve, 1951 and my mother was in the throes of an amazing Christmas dinner that my grandmother (an excellent cook and author of “Thanksgiving Turkey à la Szucs) had made. My mother was nine months pregnant. She realized, during dinner, that she was having labor pains. She, being my mother and always feeling that she had to profit from every good moment since the shoe might fall the next, turns to everyone and tells them what was going on. She then says, “I am in labor, but I am not leaving until I have my pumpkin pie!”
So, being my stubborn mom, she had her pie. Then she set off for St. Luke’s Hospital in Cleveland to deal with the delivery process.
I guess my personality was well set from the minute I was conceived and I decided to give her a run for her money. Labor was moving quickly but then, mysteriously subsided. They wanted to send my mom home, thinking it had been nothing but a false alarm. For some reason, because of the hour perhaps, they decided to just keep her overnight. The doctor was going to go home, but decided to grab his forty winks in the hospital.
He was fast asleep, and somewhere around midnight he was called in and I was born at 12:45 am, just having missed the Christmas date. And that is how I ruined my mom’s Christmas dinner, or at least tried!