Updated: Feb 17
On this day in 1980 at Truman Medical Center yours truly made his debut to the world. While I was technically there, I understandably remember none of it and the only person alive that could give me any kind of details is incommunicado (my birth mother). The following is secondhand information from what my paternal grandmother and father recanted over the years. Much like playing the telephone game the facts can change and become fuzzy over time. Not to mention they both had a penchant for dramatic flair so I cannot tell how much exaggeration is spiced in there for good measure.
My folks married in August of 1978 against the wishes of my then 3 remaining grandparents. Like most young people they thought they knew better than the old timers and love would guide them. This isn’t to in any way diminish the concept that love can be your guiding light but I’ve learned over the years that when a chorus of different voices all of whom have your best interest at heart are saying the same thing it’s worth factoring in. Of course, hormones and the pretend wisdom we think we have in our 20s overrides all of that. Speaking from experience here.
They learned of my emanate arrival the summer before and as I was the first-born child for each of them they began turning one of the extra rooms in their little three-bedroom ranch into a nursery. I once saw photos from the baby shower and cringed at the sight of the 70s era wood paneling in the background, comically large hairdos of the ladies present and the John Wayne Gacy-esque clown artwork on the wall.
My father loved to recant three distinct “facts” about my birth. First, I was born in a blizzard and they struggled to get to the hospital and were afraid I would be born in the back of my father’s 1969 gold Pontiac Firebird on the way. Two, the Obstetrician that delivered me was named “Dr. Beaver”. He would always snicker after telling me that one. Finally I was born jut a minute or two after midnight and he tried to pay off the staff to write February 14th on the birth certificate because he thought it would be cool for me to be a Valentines baby.
He could not have foreseen the onset of the internet and the availability of untold data at your fingertips but at least one of those claims I thought would be easy to check. According to the Midwest Regional Climate Center on this day 41 years ago in Kansas City the average temperature was 26°F with a low of 11°F (indeed chilly) but there was little to no precipitation. The 3 days prior were warmer and again little to no snowfall. I cracked out the ole baby book for clues. This might be the first time, at least in my adult life I’ve looked at it. My step-mom delivered it to me a couple years ago when she was cleaning out the house and I just shoved it in with the genealogy paperwork. To my surprise under Trip to the Hospital it says “Raining and very icy” so I suppose the verdict is out on that one.
Also in the baby book it does say “Dr Beaver” however there are half a dozen bracelets some of which coincide with this name while others do not. I will have to give him the benefit of the doubt on that one. Lastly it does show a time of birth as 12:20 AM. This is more than a couple of minutes after midnight but close enough I could imagine my father trying to slip the doctor a $50 to fudge the number one digit in the day column.
While I was browsing through the hodgepodge of 1st hand accounts from my youth my lovely wife and youngest daughter joined me. The tattered carboard container (an old boot box) contained several newspaper clippings from around my birth and the years following it. They mostly focused on the presidency of Ronald Regan, the space program, local sports and the Hyatt Regency collapse disaster.
Additionally, there were birthday cards from family members long since lost or estranged, an autographed poster of the blue angles from an air show, artwork from my youth and grade cards from my first few years. There was plenty of sentimental value for me there but I knew it had to be boring for them as my 8 year old ran off before we were half way through. My wife, ever patient, kindly stayed and listened to me ramble and likely mansplain.
Among the gifts listed in my baby book as coming home from the hospital with us is a small white stuffed bear my grandma Lu purchased in the lobby the day of my birth. I recall having this bear in my earliest memories but don’t recall who named him “Whitey”. Somehow he has lasted throughout the years and still sits in my closet. He’s seen some rough times losing his nose to Ruffles our mean as hell dog from the 80s and has grown to more of a dingy grey than a white but is still hanging around to greet me each day.