About the picture: My parents’ home in Haro, Ethiopia could only be reached by flying from Addis on an eensy weensy plane because there were no roads built to it at that point.
My birthday. My parents may correct me on these details, since the day of my birth is not one I personally recall.
I was born in a very small mission hospital in Nazareth, Ehtiopia. The Ethiopian nurses had made special preparations for my mom. They had spread the Raggedy-Ann sheets on the bed just for her. Nice, huh? Mostly because the Ethiopian people were pretty creeped out by the doll and figured it must be a “foreigner” thing.
After I was born, the nurses laid me in a blanket-lined cardboard box and presented me to my very proud parents. A cardboard box! What if a nurse did that now in America? Anyway, my mom, thinking of the birth announcements, asked to know my weight. The nurse looked at her in puzzlement, bounced the cardboard box up and down a few times and replied, “Maybe 8 pounds?” It’s the attention to detail that’s astounding here. A nurse the next day determined that I actually weighed in at 7 pounds 3 ounces.
They sent a telegram (you read it right. Telegram.) to Oregon to let the family know that a healthy baby girl had arrived. My mom spent about a week in the hospital being looked after by the hospital staff. The hospital bill? $35. A family dinner at In-N-Out can come pretty close to that.
There are a lot of other funny details. Like how the Scottish Dr. who kept asking if my mom wanted Demerol, (but it sounded like she was offering Damn-it-all) or if she wanted a little whiskey in the IV. These things happened earlier in the pregnancy when the bad roads almost caused a very premature delivery.
A day or two after being discharged, my parents were walking through the market one day. My mom saw a scale for weighing meat and produce. Not being fully satisfied with the vague answer given by the cardboard box-wielding nurse, she stripped me of my blankets and put me on the scale. I guess the 7lb 3oz was still accurate.
And so it begins.