This morning, 54 years ago, my mother was likely looking like a Jiffy Pop container, belly out to here, ready to burst. It was the day before I was about to make my appearance in this earthly incarnation. She and my father, who had married two years earlier (the very next day-October 14th) were eager to meet the first of their two children. A red haired munchkin got herself born 2 1/2 years later. The joke in our family was that among dark haired family members and the occasional blondie, my sister Jan must have been the proverbial ‘milkman’s daughter’. The truth is, she WAS, since for many years, that was my father’s profession. When I was a child, I used to say that I was born the day before my parents got married, to which they would rush to follow up with “Two years later,” so as to avoid embaressment.
My mother loved to tell the story of my arrival. She and my father had gone out to dinner at a Chinese restaurant, which is actually the cuisine they were enjoying on their first date when after cracking open her fortune cookie, my mother’s fortune read “You’d better prepare your Hope Chest”. Clearly, the Universe knew what it was doing and they married the following year. After dinner, she had some decadent ice cream dessert. Within a few hours, (as my friend Teddi who is anticipating the birth of her little girl as I am writing these words, referred to it in her own gestational process) we were doing “the uterine mambo”. She was rushed to the hospital and then things settled down a bit. Walking the halls of what was then called Lying-In Hospital as the maternity ward of Pennsylvania Hospital (the first hospital in the U.S.), founded by Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Bond in 1751, she stopped in front of the window to look at the newborns. Many were active, except one tiny boy. A doctor was standing over his crib, changing a diaper, and as soon as he took it off (or put it on, I forget which), he started to wail. At that moment, my mother laughed, her water broke and shortly afterward, 5:34 p.m. on October 13, 1958, I arrived on stage. I’ve often wondered if my bizarre sense of humor, ability to laugh at strange circumstances, comfort being out front, loving Chinese food and ice cream, was connected with the experiences surrounding my birth.
So, as I type these words, the morning prior to my birthday, I am filled with a mixture of feelings. I am listening to music that I will be reviewing next week for The Bliss Blog. The CD is called New World by Elisa Brown, produced by the Grammy Award winning Barry Goldstein. Ave Maria is issuing forth from the operatically trained Ms. Brown. “Mother of the Light, fill my heart, fill my soul…” transposed over the classic lyrics. Wondering what Mary was musing about the day before the birth of her Divine Child. Did she know that he would be a world changer? Does any mother know that? I imagine that if she is consciously aware of the awesome responsibility of raising a child, and not simply going through the motions, then she does have some inkling.
I look back at the last year, since turning 53 (an age that was nearly incomprehensible when I was a child…it felt so OLD) and marvel at the re-births that occur daily. Book published, touring in support of….writing, teaching, leaving a long time full time job, adjusting to being an ‘adult orphan’, missing my parents, becoming the family matriarch, meeting phenomenal souls, questioning nearly every aspect of my existence, seeing almost nothing at face value, diving deep, renovating my home and my life, clearing out, de-cluttering, making room for the new.
Tomorrow I will gather with friends from those lovely overlapping soul circles, I so treasure and celebrate our connection. That’s how I see birthday parties. When I turned 50, friends had given me a party at which they showered me with loving sentiments that I couldn’t fully absorb and they bounced off my teflon shields. My prayer is that this year, I can truly let it all in and immerse myself in love soup. In honor of my mother and father who I know will be there with us in Spirit, perhaps there will be Chinese food and ice cream…most certainly laughter.
www.youtube.com/watch?v=mIRtrR7LW7g Happy Birthday by Tom Chapin