My father, mother, and three older sisters were all delivered by the same man, Dr. Wiley. In fact, almost all of my cousins were delivered by Dr. Wiley as well. All born in the same hick town in the boondocks of Tennessee. You can barely call it a town in fact, and for the most part they were born out in the country nearby the "town."
I just had to be different of course. My father was working on a temporary job on a TVA damn in Alabama when I was born. The family was there for just a few months.
My sisters were all born at home, but none of them had been present at the birth of any of the others. They had always stayed with my mother's mother when Mama was about due to deliver. But Mama's mother had died about seven months before this particular November night. So, everyone in the family was there in the small two-bedroom house the night I was born.
I grew up hearing the story of "the night you were born," from all different directions. It seemed to have been a big event in everyone's life. Well, the one person who never told the story was my father. He never mentioned it.
My oldest sister Mary was a bright kid who read a lot and wrote all the time. So I have my story in front of me right now. Written by my sister, who was nine and a half at the time of my birth. It's not a happy story. Below is part of what Mary wrote:
"When Mama started labor, my father sent me for the mid-wife. The directions he gave me were to a part of the tract I had never been to before. My heart was in my throat. I was afraid I would get lost. I knew my father would be very angry with me if I failed to find her house."
Later after Mary has alerted the mid-wife and is back home she writes, "Daddy told me to take Doris and Bonnie to the bedroom that Doris and I shared and not to come out until he gave us permission." (Doris would have been six years old, and Bonnie would have just turned two on the first of the month. Bonnie had been used to sleeping with Mama up until this very night.)
Mary continues, "It seemed like hours passed. Bonnie was only a baby herself and she kept asking for Mama. I let her play with my paper dolls, which were cut out of the Sears Roebuck catalogue, to keep her quiet. Finally, the door opened and we were allowed to see the new baby. Mama called our attention to how she already held up her head and turned it in the direction of the person speaking."
"We could all see that Axxx Nxxxx (my real name), as Daddy named her, was going to be a strong intelligent child. Besides, she had violet eyes, which I had never seen before."
The story goes downhill after that. Bonnie cried later because she was accustomed to sleeping with Mama at night, and Daddy wasn't going to allow that now that there was a new baby. Daddy whipped Bonnie to make her stop crying, which only made her sob harder. (That was a favorite trick of his.)
Mary writes that, "Bonnie desperately tried to stop crying. Her sobs came in jerks that drew her stomach up under her ribs. " Mary then describes the beating that Bonnie got from my father because she couldn't stop crying. Mary got up the nerve to save Bonnie by grabbing her and retreating into the girls' bedroom. Poor Mama was crying and begging Daddy to leave the kids alone. So Daddy did his other favorite thing: Slammed the door and left.
As I said before, I heard this story from day one. When I was six or so, I told Mary that I knew why Daddy got so mad the night I was born. It was because I had been another girl. He wanted a boy. Here I was: just another damned girl.
He got his revenge on me with the names he gave me. My true first name is ugly, and my true middle name is unusual. But that's not the kicker. It seems that the family left Alabama a couple of months after I was born because my father had been having an affair with one of his supervisors daughters, of which there were two. Yep. I got those two names. That Daddy. Such a rake.