The first of my October days

The month of October has always meant one thing to me . . . getting older.

I’m not crazy about birthdays, but I do find it interesting that on one particular day people act like they appreciate the fact you exist.

So I guess that’s one good thing.

I started thinking about the history of this month as the first month of my life.

The day I entered the world, I was obviously present but obviously don’t remember a thing about it.

Fortunately, my parents often told the story about that momentous occasion when they brought the first of a thousand children into the world.

Apparently, they were in my parents’ old blue pickup, flying down a country road on their way to the Neligh hospital because I was indicating it was time to let me out.

The way I remember them telling the story, it was bow season for deer and my father was amply equipped with the weaponry he needed.

My mother said she was extremely nervous because she had never given birth to anything before. She wasn’t quite sure about how much time they had to make the trek.

And with each jolt and jiggle over the rough road, she wondered if I was going to pop out all on my own.

She assumed my father was nervous as well, they were pretty young and green at that point . . . until he reassured her that he had delivered enough calves in his lifetime to know exactly what to do if they didn’t make it in time.

The story goes that all of a sudden, my father slammed on the brakes. My mother wasn’t sure what was happening, until he exclaimed that he just saw a buck in the trees.

Of course, she wondered why that mattered.

Then, he hurriedly grabbed his bow and arrow, proclaiming, “I’ll be right back. Just wait here.”

Well what else was she going to do? Chase the deer along with him through the pasture?

He took off after the deer and she waited in the old pickup.

“I saw him running, running, running, and the pickup was running,” she would say. “Then I leaned over to see how much gas we had and the gauge was nearly on empty. So I turned the pickup off, hoping we would have enough to get there once and if he came back.”

This story usually brought on a light-hearted go-around through the years, as they argued about how long he was actually gone. She claimed it was “forever,” he said it was only a few minutes.

She said he didn’t plan ahead, by not putting in enough gas. He always said they had plenty of fuel . . . the gauge was just broken.

She said it was “reckless” of him to go on an impromptu hunting excursion, he countered that he still got her to the hospital on time for me to have a proper birth.

She said she “could have gone at any time,” and he always argued that “he had instincts about these things and knew the baby wasn’t coming for a while.”

She said no one knew where they were, if the pickup ran out of gas or didn’t start up again. My father would interject that before they left the farm, he had “broken into” (interrupted) Grandma Onie’s party line call with the neighbor, to tell her the exciting news. “With those two women gossiping up a storm, the whole county probably knew before we got to the hospital.”

Mom said she sat there, for all eternity, worrying about how they were going to pay the hospital bill. He shooed away the concern, remembering that they sold a steer “so they could pay Doc Peetz.”

She said they “had no business having a baby at the ages of 19 and 21,” and he always reminded her that they turned around and had another one just a year later (and a year later, and a year later, and a year later, and so on).

She said she breathed through the pain of a bowling ball moving through the eye of a needle . . . he always noted that during his manly pursuit, he tripped in a hole and thought he sprained his ankle.

Mom said the only reason everything turned out alright was because she said three Rosaries along the side of the road. He said it was because the Our Father was running through his head while he chased the whitetails.

No matter the arguments and counter-points they made, the story always ended with, “it doesn’t matter anymore because we still got our Melanie.”

I honestly don’t know if he got the deer.

If he did, he probably dropped my mother off at the hospital and then went straight to the sheriff’s department to check it in as she labored along. Remember, back then, the fathers didn’t participate in the birthing process . . . so he might as well have taken advantage of the time on his hands and the journey they already took to town.

After all, they always said “get as much done in a day as you can” and “if you are going to use gas, make the trip worth it.”

Yep, lessons learned on my first October day.

York General Hospital banner

Thanks for reading this article. content is free and never behind a paywall.
We believe in trustworthy, local journalism that is accessible to everyone.