Under My Father’s Fedora

By Dee Longfellow

Happy Birthday to me!

In case it has not yet been posted on every electronic sign in town as per my request, I want our readers to know that my birthday is coming up this Sunday, as it falls on Cinco de Mayo – May 5 – and it’s a milestone – 70 years. No problem in sharing that – Will Rogers said, it’s time to stop lying about your age and start bragging about it!

Those of you who are aware of my propensity to be late might find it amusing to learn that I was due on April 11 – yes, even in the womb, I was three-and-a-half weeks late. Grandma had come to stay with my sister and brother, but they had to send her home because Grandpa was running out of clean underwear. And you KNOW nobody could wash Grandpa’s underwear except Grandma. And, yes, they had a modern washer-dryer – it’s not like she had to go out and slap against the rocks by a stream. Still, Grandma had to do it.

And in case you’re wondering if the doctor just miscalculated the date, uhh, well, I was 9 lbs. 13 oz. – or as my mother reminded me for the rest of her days – almost TEN POUNDS!

Then of course, after Grandma went home, I started stirring and low-balled in a couple of contractions, requiring Mom and Dad to scramble my sister and brother off to a neighbor and then to the hospital, where mother was admitted and…… the labor pains stopped.

And my mother started to cry.

Then my mother, a Louisville-born and bred, prim and proper, former ballerina and southern belle debutante, who called her dad “Father” – said something to the doctor through her tears – something along the lines of: “I don’t care if you have reach down my THROAT!! GET this [language not appropriate for a family newspaper] KID OUT OF ME!! NOW!!”

And here I came!

I can honestly count on one hand how many times I have seen my mother cry. And apparently, I actually MADE her cry – at my birth.

My friend Debbie asked what I REALLY wanted for my birthday and I shared a dream I had when I was a young girl, maybe 12 or 13. I dreamt I was living and working in a very nice City like Elmhurst, but I didn’t really think anyone liked me. Then on my birthday, I drove through town to go to work and every billboard and marquee and sign said, “Happy Birthday, Dee.”

It wasn’t till later that I thought about what I would really like for my birthday – what I really, truly and honestly would like to have – I’d like to see my stepchildren again. I’d like to see John and Michelle Born again. Michelle is married and has children, but I’ve never met them. They now live in Atlanta. If it weren’t for my niece keeping in touch with Michelle from back in the day when they were “cousins,” I wouldn’t have even known that my ex-husband passed away.

John Born is still in the area as far as I know, he may still work for one of the Holiday Inns in downtown Chicago, where his dad and I used to work. That’s where we met. But Michelle has informed my niece that she and John had a big falling out and are no longer speaking. And to top it off, John is not on social media.

Those kids, whom I loved like my own, may be gone from my life forever, which is a tough pill to swallow. People have told me to move on, but how do you move on after you lose your children?

I don’t think even Will Rogers has a clever anecdote for that.

If you are so inclined, there is a small gathering of my two or three friends (they say never trust an editor who claims to have friends) on Sunday, May 5 – my birthday – and Cinco de Mayo from 2-6 p.m. at the American Legion Post THB #187. Stop by and say hello. Order a drink at the bar and tell them John Quigley has a tab open. (just joshin’)