No, I’m not having a baby. But 46 years ago, a newspaper in Lovell, Wyo., announced the birth of a baby girl, and that baby girl grew up into me.
Here I am at just a week old, being held by my Aunt Anne.
I’m struck anew by the little announcement my mom took care to paste into a scrapbook all those years ago. It’s just a few inches in height and width, but these words are the introduction to a story. It’s almost as if they say, “Once upon a time…”
Once upon a time in a place called Lovell, Wyo., a new person entered the earth. She was all wrinkled and pink, as her father used to describe her, and a bit on the fussy side, as her mother remembers.
Yes, she came in wailing, having strong opinions about things, but perhaps this was even more indicative of a child with a sensitive, perceptive, and emotional nature; a child who felt deeply, and couldn’t possibly keep all of those emotions bottled up inside her. Someday, she would find a way to release all those deeply held feelings by stringing them into sentences that, she dearly hoped, would bring life and hope to others.
The words also tell of a father who worked as a teacher, and reveal times gone by when mothers’ and wives’ first names were tucked into the “Mr. and Mrs.” designation. This “Mrs.” was the person who birthed me, yet no signs of her name: Jane. It’s just the way it was. But I do think my mother deserves more than that.
This “Mrs.” has poured her life into mine in a way I can only hope to do in part as a mother and someday-grandmother myself. This weekend, for example, she came for a pre-birthday visit, and spent much of her time playing card games with the kids and treating us through meals out and helping a little around the kitchen and letting the pets know they haven’t been overlooked.
And it was this “Mrs.” who, all those years back, took the time, despite being drained and frazzled, to cut out that little birth announcement, telling of her second daughter’s arrival, and placing it in the first page of “Roxane’s Book I,” a red scrapbook, the same color her daughter would someday choose as her favorite.
Just a few words, but words that announced my life, and subtly mention a mother; one who was determined to do what she could to make this little, imperfect family with the crying baby and toddler sister and a world full of unknowns work out somehow.
The words begin the story, but there is so much more to tell, and I’m grateful for the chance to try in any measure. Because fleeting as we are in the scheme of things, our stories do matter.
Q4U: What words were born with your first moments of life?