“A Time to Remember,” Jan. 24, 2022

(This column is from 2012.)

Out of the blue, the boy phoned to ask a question about a moment we shared years ago, a moment so momentous we would never be the same.

I remembered it well. How could I forget? He said it wasn’t important, he just wondered what time it took place. I smiled. He had no idea how important it was to me. Or how long it would keep me awake, flipping dusty, dog-eared pages of my mind, to find the answer.

What kind of mother forgets what time her child was born? It’s not like I wasn’t there. Yes, I had a few distractions. I didn’t check my watch. But still ….

Here’s what I clearly recall. I was 23 years old, married almost three years, living 3,000 miles from my family in a town so new and unfamiliar I’d get lost going to the grocery store.

My husband was teaching and coaching at a local high school. We had health insurance and a steady paycheck. We’d bought a house for about two years’ worth of his salary. It would shelter our family for nearly 50 years.

I was absolutely over the moon thrilled to be pregnant. All my life, I’d wanted to be a mother (and a grandmother, but first things first.) My experience with caring for children was limited to two younger brothers and a year as a substitute teacher.

But I’d done some reading about parenting and felt ready for whatever lay in store.

Basically, I had no clue. It didn’t matter. What I didn’t know, the boy would teach me.

On the day he was due to be born, his father had to coach a basketball game. At half-time, I was sitting in the bleachers, like a whale riding a see-saw, when I felt the first contraction.

I sent a note to the coach in the locker room: “In labor, might need to leave.’’

Minutes later it came back: “In foul trouble, game over soon.”

The game went into overtime. When his team finally lost, I bit my fist trying not to cheer. We rushed home to get a bag for me and a burrito for the coach, then drove to the hospital in the same car our soon-to-be-born baby would drive 16 years later to get his driver’s license.

By 2 a.m., I was in hard labor. Then it got harder. The nurse was a woman whose son had been my husband’s student.

“Don’t worry, child,” she told me, “I’m gonna take good care of you.” And she did, not only for my first baby, but for my second, three years later, and my third, three years after that.

On the second day, when I was still in “hard labor,” my husband made the mistake of asking if I could “hurry it up” because he had another game that night.

He claimed he was joking. I was not amused. Then I heard him on the phone telling one of his players he was “stuck” at the hospital and needed him to fill in that night as coach.

“I can hear you!” I said.

“Gotta go,” he whispered into the phone, “good luck!”

Things got a bit fuzzy after that. Somebody told me to push, so I did, for a really long time.

Next thing I knew, the coach was laughing and I was holding a little person who had hands that were tiny, but huge, like a King Kong action figure, and a lop-sided head like the rag doll that went through the wringer of my grandmother’s washer.

He was looking in my eyes as if he knew who I was, someone he had searched for and was so glad to find. And I found myself falling, falling, fast and hard, forever and always in love.

His life was just beginning. Mine would never be the same.

What time was it? I don’t know. All I know is this: It was the right time _ not a moment too late or too soon _ just when he was needed by the world, by his dad and, most of all, by me.

But according to his birth certificate (that I finally found in a box after searching half the night) it was 5:57 p.m.

Happy birthday, Josh. I am so glad you were born.


  1. Loved reading your columns for years. So glad you are posting them for us to enjoy again. I’m from NC so I can relate to your growing up years.

  2. Faye Woods says

    I have read you faithfully each Sunday in our local paper, The Dothan Eagle. We are located in a rural area of southeast Alabama, the peanut capital of the world. While I respect your decision to retire, i have sorely missed your stories. So much I can relate to. Just wanted you to know you were a wonderful part of my Sunday mornings and I thank you for that. God bless!!

  3. I love the way you write. Thank you for repeating some columns on here.

  4. I certainly enjoy reading your memories please keep them coming. We are fortunate that 3 of ours were born around noon so their dad didn’t have to miss his night shift work. Our last child came early morning & I was worn out, but hungry. They brought me breakfast & I remember taking a bite of food & napping while chewing. I was in college at the time & it was finals week. I had taken my books with me to the hospital. Those were busy but wonderful times. The kids are all grown & flown now & this house is full of memories. Their dad & I laugh as we recall things done & said. Your memories always help me remember more about those days. Take care & God bless you & yours.

  5. Carol (Billings) Kirkman says

    Happy Birthday to Josh, one of my favorite actors!

  6. carol headrick says

    Sharon: I cannot tell you how many friends respond with pure delight that you are continuing to post past columns!!! I agree with them and am so happy each Monday ~ so far ~ to find another column posted. Your final column in December with news of retirement was respected, of course; however, we weren’t sure how we would manage without your weekly lift! Enjoy retirement but reassure us that we’ll never run out of your past weekly writings for 32 years!

  7. Katie Musgrave says

    All so funny now! Thankfully someone watches & records the time & other critical details needed following the birth. That is NOT mom’s job. Oh, the memories…some a little foggy. Happy birthday young man!

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