Tuesday, November 29, 2005

The night I was born

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.


GodlessMom said...

Wow, what a story! It kinda sounds like your daddy was a SOB. I got to hand it to women who give birth in small out of the way towns in some back bedroom. It takes a level of strength that I really admire. Did your mom resent the fact that you carried those two names?

Ivy the Goober said...


barefoot_mistress said...

I still think Tan Lucy Pez is the best name for a blog!

Tan Lucy Pez said...

I forgot to mention the date: November 30th.

No, Godlessmom, my sweet little Mama wasn't one to resent stuff. Couldn't carry a grudge. She was the best. And, yes, he was a jerk.

Ivy: I don't think of it that way. It's just the way it was. Maybe I should have softened it. But it's the real deal.

Doug said...

Happy Birthday, TLP! XOXO (Sorry Mireille, just for today)

Sar said...

Happy Birthday Mama Pez! (I sang to you on Aral's already).

You are a strong woman to be greatly admired. But we already knew that. And violet eyes - beautiful. Elizabeth Taylor's got nothin on you, I'm sure!

Okay so I'm gushing. Well, what do you expect, it's your birthday afterall! :)

Bela said...

Joyeux Anniversaire, TLP!

My mother was born on Nov 25th (she would have been 93 this year). You have so much charm - just like her, when she was a young woman.

What an extraordinary story! So beautifully told! :-)

Meegan said...


Your mom sounds like she was sweet enough to make up for the personality of your dad. What a story, though. What your dad did to Bonnie makes me cringe.

Tan Lucy Pez said...

Barefoot: Thanks. AP3 gave me that name.

Doug: Thanks. Socko to you too.

Sar: Well, the eyes are just plain blue at this point. Too bad. But, boy do I have good eyes! Still have almost perfect vision. I'll settle for that instead of the violet color.

Bela: thanks!

Meegan: Yep. Mama was a sweet one. Bonnie was always a scape goat for my father. Never understood that. Didn't affect her as a person. She doesn't have a mean thought in her head.

To all: we girls were a tight circle for each other. My father wasn't around much, and left for good when I was about 9 or so. No great loss. In fact, no loss at all.

Doug said...

I just read the story. Tough start. But you were smart and tough and named after two trollops. Destined for greatness.

Savtadotty said...

Happy Birthday, Tan Lucy Pez! And congratulations to Mary for finding the midwife.

Peter said...

Hi Lucy, I never cease to be amazed by the stories that surround each and every one of us, Where else in the world would we feel able to tell them but in blogland.
Hope you have a wonderful birthday, it's Wed.30th Nov here, nearlt 7pm, so I guess you are just starting your celabrations.

Keith said...

Nov 30th has just dawned here. Happy birthday, and I hope you have many more. If anyone deserves a good life, then you qualify a hundred times over.

My father was always a SOB to me because I was the reason he had to marry my mother. He got her pregnant, and in those days men were forced to marry a woman if he got her "into trouble". On the wedding night he slept with another woman just to show contempt for my mother, so he told me when I was older.

dddragon said...

well, I knew part of that, but not the worst parts.

And I thought it was bad that you almost had me in the toilet.

Happy Birthday, Mama

OldHorsetailSnake said...

Nov. 30, 2005:

Happy Birthday Tan Lucy Pez.
Today might be ducky
For you to be lucky,
So go gamble on an Indian res.

Yr. pal forever,


Fred said...

Happy Birthday, TLP. You made it through the tough times; thank goodness for Mama.

Minka said...

Wow, knowing facts about others really put your own little worries into persepctive.
Happy Birthday TLP, til hmaingju meĆ° daginn and Alles Gute zum Geburtstag.
By having a fantastic day, you´ll show your jerk of a father that even unwanted as a child you can become a great person that is surrounded by so much love it would starngle him!
I was born in the ambulance on the way from a potato field to the hospital :)

edina monsoon said...

Selamat Hari Jadi TLP (that's in Bahasa Malaysia...the national language for Malaysia ) Your story touched me. Your mum must have been an incredible lady. Like mother like daughter. Hope your birthday is everything you wish it to be.

Manchego said...

Happy Birthday, TLP!
That's quite a story! Have you ever thought about writing your memoirs? You could be the next great Southern female writer with echoes of Flannery O'Connor and the like.

mireille said...

ahhh Lucy. You never fail us. And once those names were given to you, they became yours. Hard stories make special people. Happy Birthday ♥ xoxo (plenty of XOXO for you today)

AP3 said...

I'm struck that Mary was such a great writer for a little kid, and that your dad really was an SOB, even more than I knew.


I love you! Happy Birthday!

pia said...

Happy birthday. Your story is amazing. WOW

lime said...

wow! that is quite a story. daddy sounds like a piece of work and a half. i am glad you have such a good mama and sisters though. happy birthday!

Mike said...

Whoa...pretty wild story TLP. Great reading. 4 girls???

BarbaraFromCalifornia said...

Happy Birthday!

What a story indeed.

May your day be filled with much joy and happiness (I know there will be a Pez celebration.)

KristieD said...

I hope you have a wonderful birthday! Thanks for sharing the story of your entry into this world. I am always fascinated by people's stories of thier own births or their childrens. They are all unique. Sounds like you guys were better off without your daddy...And you girls sound like your were very tight.

Anyway-- Happy Happy Birthday!


Lucy said...

You are the master storyteller - for sure and a survivor i think.

Happy Birthday.

Blueberry said...

Happy Birthday to you TLP!! And thank you for sharing your story.

Jamie Dawn said...

He may have wanted a boy, but I don't think he could have done any better than you, even if you had a penis.

Have a superb b-day!

Libby said...

TLP...what an amazing story! and you know what? from reading your old "mama stories", she might not have ever been mean to anybody, but, she had strength that you inherited!!
BoUnCeS!! LibbY!

Amber said...

Happy Happy Birthday, TLP!

Your story touched me deeply.

What an A$$HOLE your dad was!

Glad you didn't let it hold you back. Good for you! :-)

Although you made me remember that we UNKNOWINGLY named our daughter after the woman who had an affair with my ex's dad and broke up his parent's marriage. At least, that's the way my ex's mom saw it. His mom was not pleased, but hey! We didn't know! Until after.

Although...I really don't think I would have changed her name if we had known. We loved her name so much by the time she was born.

actonbell said...

Happy birthday, again! I didn't know Mary had to be such a grown-up. Geez.
Hope you're enjoying that movie:)

natasha said...

And now for a truly original comment ...

Happy Birthday, Luce!


sherle said...

Amazing story!!! Happy Birthday Lady Pez!!!

Canadian Dude said...

Your stories are great. Happy Birthday!

Doug said...

I hope it was a great one, TLP. Fair warning: The party at Waking Ambrose ain't over yet.

Klondike Kate said...

Happy Birthday TLP! (sorry a bit late). I agree with all the previous comments - you are a special lady!

Wonder if anyone ever told your mean ol' daddy that it was *his* sperm that determined gender?

Monique said...

Happy Birthday! Sorry I'm late!

mrsmogul said...

Wow, that's not the ending I expected.
You've made it through though!

Happy Belated!