Monday, February 1, 2010

Your Father's Birth

I asked my dad about his birth and he knew nothing of it; he said his generation just didn't ask that kind of questions. He likes to say that Peyton and I (and our generation) do a lot of "navel gazing" (meaning analyzing things and asking lots of questions). Anyway, he told me that if I really wanted to know I should call Grandee (my grandmother, his mom) at the Waterford (her retirement home) and ask her.

I was a little unsure about it because 1) she has a really hard time hearing and 2) she really can't remember most of what happened to her yesterday. She'll tell you that herself. It's the kind of thing like she's been asking me since Ann Peyton was six weeks old if she sleeps through the night. She asks me EVERY time she sees me and each time she asks at least three times, at about ten minute intervals. It doesn't really bother me; I just tell her the same thing every time- "She sleeps beautifully. She has since she was a month old". So, I wasn't sure about beleiveing my Dad that she would have lots to tell me.

Okay, I am so glad I went ahead and called her! Her long term memory DEFINITELY makes up for her short term. She was full of details!


Daddy was born on October 13, 1947 here in Jackson, MS. He weighed around 7.5 pounds.

It was a nice fall day and Grandee's parents had come down to Jackson from North Mississippi to wait for their grandson's birth. Grandee went to the bathroom and knew it was "time". Papa (my grandfather) was at work and so they called him and he met them at the hospital.

When they got to the hospital there was a black man running the elevator (only Grandee called him a "colored man") and when they told him to take them to her doctor's floor he said "Oh no sir, I am taking you to the THIRD floor" (which was, of course, where the babies were born).

Grandee was in labor for about three hours. Not bad!

Once Daddy was born, she said she hated it when they took him away from her to take him to the nursery. Papa wrote a letter to his parents describing how beautiful and how perfect he was.

Grandee said she stayed in the hospital about four days and when they first brought her a bowl of water to wash her face she said "Oh no, I can't do this [wash her face after being in labor for three hours], you are going to have to do this for me". I found this hysterical, because to this day, Grandee is a bit of a "damsel in distress".

Grandee told me that she tried to nurse but got an absessed breast when she got home from the hospital (I was surprised she went into all that with me). So Papa had to go buy bottles and then bring them home and sterilize them. She said "I thought Rob was going to starve before we got those bottles here"- she's a bit of a drama queen; I guess I come by it honestly.

She also said that when Daddy was a newborn, Papa would change his sheets in the bassinet by their bed at night (in those days the mother did not get out of bed for a week). She said it scared her to death because he would just pick up Newborn Daddy, put him on his shoulder, and change the sheets while balancing him there. He never dropped him, though!

The last thing she told me was the most important. I finally got up the nerve to ask her- "Did y'all decide after Daddy was born to just have one or did y'all know all along?". [I had asked my Dad before and he said he never asked. That's when he made the "navel gazing" comment.]

She told me that they "would have loved two or three more", but they weren't able to have any more. I don't know if something happened during the delivery or if there were fertility issues and my Dad was a miracle baby or what, but wow! We had all always thought they only wanted one, so I was very shocked!

She also told me she had a bunch of stuff, including Papa's letter to his parents and Daddy's birth certificate that she was about to throw in the "wastepaper basket", but I told her PLEASE not to. I am SO glad I called!

(Look at his little foot!)


  1. I love that you're so interested in family history! Christopher and I are the same way! It drives me crazy when I'll ask John something about his family and he will have NO idea! I think it's a guy thing.