Barbara was due to deliver our baby on September 28th, her birthday. I told her that I hoped the baby came before or after so the child would have its own birthday! She didn’t agree, but since we had no control over the timing, it didn’t really matter.
One day when Barbara had an appointment with the doctor, I was working in the tire shop. Shortly before lunch I saw Dad walking down the lane. He looked odd and was holding one arm. I ran to meet him and saw that his face was bloody and his eyes looked strange.
“You’d better take me to the hospital,” he said.
I helped him into the car and we roared off. On the way he told me what had happened. He had cut down a tree growing on the edge of the woods. Since it had many large branches growing out towards the light, It didn’t fall completely to the ground but was resting on those out stretched branches.
Dad had begun cutting off the long branches so he could get to the main trunk. As He was working, the tree suddenly rolled and he was struck on the head by a branch he didn’t see coming. It hit with such force that it crushed the front of his skull, knocking him to the ground and hurting his arm. Since the bones around his eyes were broken, one eye was looking upwards and the other downwards.
The average person would not have survived such a serious accident but Dad was such a tough old Yankee that he didn’t even lose consciousness. Instead, he got up, shut off his chain saw and walked home in the 95 degree heat, climbing over two stone walls on the way!
When we got to the emergency room, the doctor called in a facial specialist. As this doctor was examining him, Dad asked him, “Are you going to have to operate on my face?”
“Yes, I’ll have to lift off your whole face and wire all those bones back together,” replied the doctor.
“Well, when you’re done will I be able to play the piano?” Dad asked.
“Why certainly,” said the doctor.
“Great,” said Dad, “I could never play it before!”
The doctor laughed and shook his head, “Well, we’ve got no problem with spirit here, do we?” he commented.
That was Dad; when others would be totally incapacitated, he was cracking jokes.
After getting him taken care of, I went around to the front of the hospital where Barbara’s doctor had his practice and went in to tell her about Dad’s accident. She was surprised to see me, but not surprised that Dad had had another injury. He certainly made life exciting for all of us.
Two of Barbara’s cousins and the fiancé of one came for a visit near the end of August. They joined in with our life on the farm and made day trips to see the sights around us.
They were scheduled to leave on September 26th and we planned to take them to JFK. However, at 1:30 am on the 26th Barbara woke me up and said, “The baby is coming! It’s time to go!”
We called my parents and made arrangements for Mom to take our guests to the airport and then we zoomed off to the hospital. The nurses put Barbara into a labor room and prepped her for the birth. I was to be in with her, so they prepped me too, handing me a gown and cap.
When the labor pains were close enough together, the nurse began to push the bed towards the door, saying to Barbara, “It’s time to head for the delivery room. You get a free ride there!”
“Oh no she doesn’t,” I said, responding automatically with my Scottish instincts, “We’re paying for every inch of it!” The nurse laughed and off we went.
Barbara did well, applying the training we got in the Lamaze classes we’d attended. But she has always had limited physical resources, and in the end her strength gave out, so the doctor used forceps to pull the baby out.
I sat at Barbara’s head, holding her hand, watching the procedures. And suddenly there was our child in the doctor’s hands. The doctor’s face lit up in a big smile as he held the baby aloft, “It’s a boy!” he shouted.
These were the days before ultrasound so we had not known what the baby would be. I felt a rush of gladness, although I would have been happy to have a girl, too. I wondered if the doctor was so happy with Josh’s being a boy because he’d get an extra fee for the circumcision! Those Scottish roots at work again! But I found out later that he had six daughters, so was excited for every boy he delivered!
After the nurse had cleaned Josh up, she brought him and placed him in Barbara’s arms. He opened his eyes and looked up at us. He had a “what are you doing in my world?” look on his face, like a little adult. And that’s what he continued to be throughout his childhood.
Picture: my sister Marcia with little josh. See how he’s looking at the world, wondering what’s going on?