Sunday, July 12, 2009


On Saturday, July 12, 1969, at approximately twenty minutes after 11 A.M., our daughter was born. As I think about her, a flood of memories wash over me ... can it be possible that happened forty years ago? There are so many memories; moments that define her; how can I tell you how very special she is; how proud we are of her; how much she is loved?

I had gone to the hospital in the wee hours of that Saturday morning. The labor was erratic … the doctor told me I could rest, he would have the nurses start some Pitocin and he’d be back at noon, when he was finished seeing patients. (you read that correctly ... it was a Saturday and he was seeing patients!)

Somewhere around 11:00 A.M., I went from mild labor pains to having ‘major’ labor and I wanted to push!!! As I was being wheeled into the delivery room, I could hear the nurse on the telephone “if you want to deliver this baby, you better get over here… NOW!!!!”

I did not plan on having ‘natural childbirth’ but she was in such a hurry to get here. The doctor told me later that he ‘caught’ our daughter, literally. This event is rather ironic, because for the next three months, we had to wake her to feed her every three to four hours. She liked to sleep (today she still requires several hours sleep to manage) and I don’t think she has been early since that morning.

I remember the 4th of July before she was born; I was drinking lemonade … my hands resting on my stomach, laughing each time a Roman candle went off, she would kick me from inside. I can smell the lingering smoky air on that evening. I was sitting in a lawn chair in the driveway of our first home watching fireworks with her 2½-year-old brother and her daddy. We had finally breathed a sigh of relief that I was not going to lose my pregnancy.

I had had a bleeding episode around my 6th month; I had stepped down off a neighbor’s tall kitchen stool and felt a sharp pain in my abdomen. That night I woke to discover that I was bleeding heavily. We didn’t have ultrasound or sonograms, I was told that there was a tear in the placenta; it was pulling away from the uterus. We were terrified; I had an amniocentesis, again without the use of all the technology available today. I was given a drug called Diethylstilbestrol (DES), a synthetic hormone also known as Stilboestrol. DES was given to pregnant women to lower the risk of miscarriage beginning in the 1940s and into the mid-1970s. The drug was withdrawn from use for this indication in 1971, after its dangers to mothers and their unborn children became apparent. I had been placed on bed rest, which required our young son to be taken to daycare.

In retrospect we now know that the bed rest ordered following the initiation of this drug was in fact the reason that most women did not suffer miscarriages. We would not learn of all the complications of this drug for several years. Our daughter would have problems related to this drug when she was older, but forty years ago we were blissfully ignorant of all these side effects.

Her daddy had often teased me saying he thought the baby was another boy … he could deal with another boy … he would make sure that the ‘boys’ were closer than he was with his older brother. The doctor announced, “You have a healthy, little girl.” I required surgery following her birth to repair the tears; I drifted off with the anesthesia thinking what if The Duck was disappointed with a baby girl.

When I awoke a few hours later, I found The Duck standing next to my hospital bed with a dozen pink roses in his hand and the tiniest pink dress. He had seen our daughter, telling me “she is beautiful.” He smiled and told me how happy he was; our family was complete now, we had a son and a daughter.

Where do I begin to tell you about this little girl … she always loved animals; I have photos of her old cat, Lilly, sleeping up around her chin. She loved playing with her Beagle puppies … she would place the cat and/or dogs in a wagon and cart them about the yard. I can see her sitting on the doghouse out on the back patio, holding a dog and wishing upon the first star at night; she always wished for a horse of her own.

She had a scrap of blanket that she carried with her to bed each night; she would wrap the blanket around her fingers as she sucked on her thumb. She wore high top shoes with a metal bar between them for a couple of years to correct hip dysplasia. She slept on her back for years thanks to those cumbersome shoes.

She loved dog biscuits and even ate a few ‘pill bugs’ … much to the delight of her brother, who remarked that they crunched when she chewed them. One time her dad made her sit at the table because she wouldn’t eat her carrots … she fell asleep at the table, rather than eating those carrots. Another time she was arguing at the dinner table (I have no memory of what) and her dad poured a glass of water (or was it milk) over her head. We all dissolved into fits of laughter!

At age 5, we visited my dad and his side of the family in Portland, Oregon. My father knew of our girl’s love of horses. So, as a surprise to her (and us) he bought a pony named Dusty … he sold it back to the neighbor after we left. But for that long week, she and a cousin could be found riding that pony around my dad's little three acre ‘farmette.’

I can see her sitting on the kitchen floor of our place in El Lago, eyes turned up to me as I sit on a stool, talking to her and her brother. Everyone looks so serious … I do not appear angry, just very serious as I talk with them. I have no idea what was being said … I only see their faces turned upward, listening so carefully.

I remember her asking/actually crying while asking if her dad and I were going to get a divorce. Apparently, The Duck and I had had a heated verbal confrontation … I only remember the fear in her eyes. I am so sorry for putting that fear on her. She now takes great pleasure knowing that we have been married almost 44 years. She comments that we married young, that I had our children by the time I was 22 years old. Her dad reminds her (too often I fear) that I didn’t have any help from family with two babies.

I have a drawer full of drawings by this sweet little person … always signed with “I love you.” She is sensitive and stubborn at the same time. She is very honest … sometimes to the dismay of others. She tends to second-guess herself and asks “what if?” I almost envy the fact that she actually does not care what others think … she is her own person.

I have a photo of a timid looking young girl wearing a black cowboy hat, a black western shirt, holding a blue ribbon in her left hand and her right arm around her horse's head. She took first place in Western Pleasure at the 1984 Houston Livestock and Rodeo … against ‘professionals’ in the business. It was the first time she competed in such a large arena. She still has that wonderful ole horse, Julie-boo.

I remember this young girl, spending literally hours out at the stables, working with her horse; talking religion at length with adults; a teenager who could not have cared less for designer jeans or clothes. Even remarking that she wasn’t going to wear someone’s name on her ‘butt!’ She was ‘country’ before it was cool to be country! Was it a bottle of tequila or Johnny Walker that I found in her boots in the closet?

She was never a ‘girly-girl’ preferring plastic horses to dolls; but for her wedding she wore a full length ‘southern belle’ gown with a wide brim ‘bonnet’ and veil. She looked like she was out of the movie “Gone with the Wind” ... she could have been on an old plantation, sitting out on the veranda drinking a mint julep. She insisted that her dog be a part of the ceremony; thus sweet ole Dandy, her black German shepherd, stood between them when they repeated their vows. She was absolutely beautiful … we laughed that perhaps it was a good thing she didn’t want her old horse, Julie-boo, in the wedding … picture ‘Lady Godiva’ riding in … who needs a wedding gown???

She dated ‘the love of her life’ for almost eight years before they married. They both lived in San Antonio while they attended college … but they lived in separate apartments. It was even suggested they ‘share’ an apartment to save money … but NO ... it wasn’t going to happen until they were married. Neither one had attended many parties or formal affairs so their wedding was a ‘party.’ Several people remarked that they hadn’t had as much fun at a wedding as they did attending our daughter and son-in-law’s. We should have known it was going to be fun … after the two completed their vows and turned to walk back down the aisle, the music that accompanied them was a very loud “I Feel Good” by James Brown. She picked songs from her parent's era to dance those first dances. We have video of her elderly 74-year-old grandmother doing the ‘jitter bug’ and having a blast!! Other videos show everyone attempting the Limbo ... how low can you go???

She cannot be described in simple terms; she is made up of so many intricate parts; for instance, she failed classes in her junior year (because she was bored out of her skull and preferred to write poetry about horses) and yet she earned two degrees in college; a B.A. in Psychology and a Masters in Educational Psychology. She didn’t display that she was smart until she went to college. Her dad is fond of saying “the good thing about raising independent children is they are independent … the bad thing about raising independent children is … they are independent!” Another frequent saying “I won’t take credit for your good points, if you don’t give me credit for your bad points.” She is very much like her father … logical, intelligent, tenacious, honest and loyal. And she has blond hair and beautiful blue eyes like her father.

I am in awe of the unique and beautiful woman she has become. I think it is difficult for us ‘mothers’ to acknowledge that our children are grown, that they are adults, perfectly capable of dealing with whatever life has to offer. It’s difficult to realize that they no longer need you as before. We remember the homework battles, the broken curfews, and the rebellion over chores and telephone calls … and just about anything when they are teenagers … when they are pushing their boundaries, exploring the vast possibilities and opportunities before them. I’ve had the privilege to see this shy girl who was so uncertain at times and lacking confidence at other times become a very self-assured young woman.

I am at times totally flabbergasted when I hear her conversations with other ‘adults’ … she works so hard checking tax appraisals, then organizes all the information and goes before the board ‘loaded for bear.’ She’s no body’s fool; she commands an air of authority concerning her horse breeding business. She is very knowledgeable; her vocabulary is vast and intelligent. I wonder sometimes “who is this person?”

I have never been more proud of my daughter than when she had her own daughter almost three years ago. She never baby-sat or was around babies … but she is more than a good mother … she is amazing. She possesses such calm demeanor, she is disciplined; she sings her songs (she remembers the words to all kinds of music) She would rather be outside than anywhere else on earth. She allows her daughter is play in the dirt and jump into mud puddles … she loves unconditionally. I want to wish a Happy Birthday today to my daughter. I love you more than words can say. Love, Mom

P.S. Being the ‘red pen’ that she is, if I’ve made any errors, she will surely correct them … it’s just who she is!!!


Bz said...

Am totally laughing on the "PS" ...uhhh... cause... ummm... I was just fixing to call you.
BUTTTT... before that. (deep sighhhh) not sure what to say. I know, me(!), "speechless". I always love reading what you write. I always learn something.
Today, I have leaned more about me (how lucky for me).
If I can be 1/2 as good a parent as what you and dad were with what y'all were given, then our Little Someone should feel blessed. Thank you and I love YOU both more than words can say.

Robynn's Ravings said...

What an incredible birthday gift you gave to BZ, Sandy.

I know you bless her in many ways but women, especially we verbal, writing types, are never more touched than when we see words of encouragement and blessing in writing. And for you to recall all these stories and that each one is a treasure to you - enough so that you remember so MANY things - is amazing.

I didn't know any of you, and really, still don't. We will probably never meet. But I can see through your writing, and hers, over these last several months, you have influenced her greatly in spite of many of your own serious trials in life. I admire you and appreciate you. I know she does, too. Thanks for directing me here. Many blessings, to you both. I loved getting to know her through your eyes.