“A Time to Remember,” May 30, 2023

This column is from 2012.

Out of the blue, the boy asked me a question about a moment we shared years ago, he and I, a moment so momentous we would never be the same.

I remembered it, of course. How could I forget? I’d sooner forget my name. But that’s not what he was asking. He knew I hadn’t forgotten it. He just wondered what time it took place?

What time? As in hours and minutes?

Never mind, he said, It was just question, nothing important.

I smiled. He had no idea how important it was to me. Or how much it would haunt me, keep me awake, flipping dusty, dog-eared pages of my mind, trying to find the answer.

What kind of mother forgets the exact 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 do recall. I was 23 years old, married for nearly three years, living 3,000 miles from my family in a town so new and unfamiliar I could get lost going to the grocery store.

My husband had recently started teaching and coaching at a local high school. We had health insurance and a steady paycheck. We had been fortunate to buy a house for about two years’ worth of his salary. It would be our home for almost 50 years.

I was absolutely over the moon to be pregnant. All my life I had wanted to be a mother (a grandmother, too, but first things first.) I had limited hands-on experience with children, but had done a lot of reading and had no doubt I was 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 side-saddle on a see-saw, when I felt the first contraction. At half time, 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 had to bite my fist not to cheer. We went home to get my bag and a burrito for the Coach, then drove to the hospital in the same car the boy would drive 16 years later to get his driver’s license.

By 2 a.m., I was in hard labor. Or so I thought. Then it got harder. The nursing assistant was a woman whose son had been one of my husband’s students. 

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

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

Later he would say he was joking. I was not amused. At one point, I heard him on the phone telling one of his players that he was sorry, but he needed him to fill in as coach at the game.

“I can hear you!” I said.

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

Things got a little fuzzy after that. Somebody told me to push, so I did, for a really long time, hours or days or years, I couldn’t say.

Next thing I knew, the Coach was laughing and I was holding a little person that had big hands like a King Kong action figure, tiny but huge, and a lop-sided head like the rag doll that accidentally went through the wringer of my grandmother’s washer. And he was looking up at me as if somehow he knew exactly who I was, someone that he was really glad to finally meet face to face. And I was falling, falling, fast and hard, forever and always in love.

What time was it? I can’t believe I forgot. What I clearly recall is this: It was the right time, not a moment too late or too soon, just when he was needed by the world, 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.


  1. Susan Kovarick says

    My first child was born at Fort Ord Monterey 12/30/60. I was 22, husband at Naval Postgraduate School. He was sent home and told they would call him when baby was born. Duh! What was your year you described?

  2. Sydney S Love says

    I woke up sometime in the night last night, thinking of you. I haven’t read your posts faithfully as I did for 20 years or more. You see even though I am a senior citizen I have gone back to work. It’s a good thing. It was needed by my husband and myself. He has gone back to work also. The point being I don’t have a lot of time to read your columns that I love so dearly. For whatever reason I awoke and thought I’m going to get back in there and read her columns. You always have something special for me that touches my heart. I savor the words that you write. There are phrases that you have given that I can’t get out of my head and neither do I want to. One of those was the ” cool side of the pillow”. Another after hearing you say it means so much to me. I use it every year on my kids birthdays. ” Happy Birthday and I am glad that you were born.” I could go on and on but I’ll quit. I just want you to know how special you are and how much you have meant to me over the years. This is going to be my time for me each day. I will go to your website and catch up on all that I’ve missed. You have made a difference in my life. Thank you.

  3. Janie Abbott says

    I was 19 when my first child was born. He came on his due date at 5 pounds 6 oz. I was so excited but unfortunately he died during birth with the cord around his neck. No ultra sound it those days. I was so devastated. I had 3 healthy girls later on. I was always sad I wasn’t gifted with another boy. I will meet him again when I go to my heavenly home. I love all your stories and have followed you for years. Be blessed

  4. Katie Musgrave says

    Time we’ll spent! Love how you remember all the details before, during, & after. Time is irrelevant…day should suffice. You had to be there to appreciate the drama. Funny and real life stuff. ❤️

  5. CHope Hall says

    I well remember when our first son was born in 1962 at 11:40am. He was turned wrong & I had been pushing for hrs it seemed. drs came in & with much work turned him around. Within minutes this big 8 lb. boy was born with his arm around his neck. I was exhausted & he was propping himself up on his elbows looking around while he was being cleaned up. He was beautiful to me even without a hair on his head. Nursing him was one of the most wonderful experiences of my life at age 18. Those days didn’t offer much in the way to deaden the labor pain. I quickly learned to waste no energy screaming, just bite my lip & push like the dickens. 3 more wonderful babies arrived more easily & all 4 are grown. Their years growing up are never forgotten & my husband & I have been truly blessed. God is good & it is well.

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