Toward the middle of August of 1973, Kathy packed a bag for the hospital and put it by the window of our bedroom.
Her due date had been sometime in late July or early August—the exact date escapes me—but it had passed, and we were concerned. One day we went to the hospital for tests. I stood next to the doctor as he clipped an X-ray to the light panel and studied it.
“Congratulations,” he said at last, “you’re going to be a father.”
My eyes watered then just as they are doing now, as I relive the moment .
Everything was fine. The infant, our first, apparently was just enjoying the warmth and solitude of the womb until she (as it turned out) was good and ready to join us.
It was after that that Kathy packed. And every night, before getting ready for bed, I asked how she was feeling and whether that might be the night. Every night, her answer was the same: “No. Not tonight.”
On the 16th, I asked again.
And so we went to bed. Minutes later, she shook me.
I could have beaten a fireman in getting my clothes back on. And in getting her to the hospital.
And then we waited. Hours and hours, into the early morning.
Finally, when the child was good and ready, Kathy was wheeled into the delivery room. I put on all the protective gear so that I could be by her side. Within minutes, out came the baby. So fast and so covered with goo that I feared she would slip out of the doctor’s hands and onto the floor. But he had a firm grip, and within seconds he had her breathing and bawling. A nurse took her, cleaned her, wrapped her in a blanket, and took her to Kathy.
The baby was all pink and wrinkled with eyes shut tight.
“May I touch her?” I asked.
“Go ahead,” the doctor said. “She’s yours.”
That was 36 years ago today. Half of my lifetime ago. She has a husband and two lovely little sons. But in memory, I hold her for the first time. She is still mine.