Some months ago, my grandmother told me the story of her youngest brother's birth. Today, while doing the bills, I came across the paper on which I had feverishly jotted down notes during our conversation.
December 1941 in a farmhouse outside of Topeka, my great-grandma Bessie was laboring to bring forth her 8th child. Dorothy, my grandmother, was 11 and paying close attention. All of the other babies had been born at home, but it was becoming obvious that this baby had a different plan. "Something wasn't quite right. She was having problems," Grandma Dorothy told me. Of course, being a home-birth midwife, I probed for more details, but 70 years of time passed plus her 11 year-old perspective meant that this simple story was all the detail she had to offer. "She needed to go to the hospital but there was snow up the yin-yang. It was much too deep for the truck." The "driveway" such as it was (a 3/4 mile dirt road) was impassable so they had to use the tractor. Great-grandpa hitched up a trailer to that tractor, put a mattress on it and covered Bessie as well as he could before driving off into the night. Snow covered fields and intense cold, in labor on a trailer pulled by a tractor: I can't imagine that traveling to the hospital was a journey that Bessie ever forgot. Phil Jean was born, safely, December 21, 1941 and came home, to his family's great joy on Christmas Day.