Tuesday, August 2, 2011

A Day in August

The August day dawned hot and muggy in much the same way as the one before it and the one before that. Like their neighbors, the young couple was trying to scratch out a living from the southwest Virginia dirt. They eagerly anticipated the birth of their first child but, times being what they were, the mother-to-be kept working in the field even though her due date was fast approaching. From all indications, this might even be the big day.

By late afternoon, she was sure it was time. She sent her husband to fetch her sister and two sisters-in-law who lived nearby. She rested on the bed – the same bed in which her mother had spent her final moments on earth six years earlier. There would be no trip to the hospital. The birth would take place at home. Once the three ladies arrived, her husband was all but banished from the room. He took up a position in the kitchen to wait for the blessed event – and to be nearby in case the request came for boiling water like it always did in the movies.

The evening wore on with no word of any progress until one of the ladies came and told him to call for the nurse. There was no phone in their little four-room log house so he walked half a mile to the nearest telephone. He called the nurse who agreed to come right away. Once she arrived, she disappeared into the room with the other ladies.

After some time had passed, the nurse came out and said the doctor was needed. He walked up the hill once more to the house with the telephone. He called the doctor and told him of the nurse’s request. The doctor wasn’t familiar with the area where they lived so he asked the husband to meet him and be his guide. They decided on a location and he went back to inform the others. The next thing he had to do was figure out how to get to the meeting place since they had no vehicle.

He went to his brother-in-law who readily agreed to let the fretful father-to-be borrow the only mode of transportation available. He then headed up the road as fast as the farm tractor would take him. By that time, it was pitch dark, a thick fog had developed, and he could barely see the way. He reached the designated location and waited for the doctor to arrive. An hour elapsed between the time the doctor had been summoned and the time they reached the little house.

The doctor allowed the nurse to leave and he assessed the situation. By now, the mother was tired, weak, and in excruciating pain. He decided the best course of action would be to let her rest. He administered the ether and she drifted off to sleep. The combination of oppressive heat and humidity added to the daunting task ahead of him. Two lives were in his hands. With the mother asleep and unable to assist, it would be a difficult delivery. The three ladies stayed tirelessly by his side.

Finally, at 3:45 a.m. on August 3, 1956, the baby girl was born. She never cried nor even whimpered, yet she appeared healthy in all respects. After she was cleaned and swaddled, her aunt carried the newborn to the kitchen to her waiting father. She was gently placed into his outstretched hands and she lay there quietly. He looked into her eyes and, at that instant, she became Daddy’s little girl.

The mother recovered quickly and was soon able to go about her daily routine. They continued to live there in that little log house.

That’s the story of how we became a family as related to me by my dad and my aunt.


  1. Nice story. Well written. I'm sorry I didn't find your blog sooner.

  2. A beautiful story indeed.I'm happy that mommy,and daughter made it.Thanks for sharing this story.God Bless.

  3. The story had lots of suspense in it, which just shows once again, truth is stranger and more interesting than fiction. You're so young, you could have been my daughter, but our daughters were not born until five or so years later in an urban setting where most babies were born in hospitals. I was born at home in the back of a gas station, where my parents lived and Daddy worked. My daddy did not tell me a story nearly as interesting but he did mention that he noticed my little fingers had a slight crook in the last joint just like his bride and loved me at the moment he noticed it.

  4. What a beautiful story. I was born in a hospital, but my sister, three years younger than me, was actually born at home. Thank you for sharing.