THAT NIGHT — 11/23/63: a Different Mother’s Day

the hospital was full that night

of mothers come to term

too soon

mourning the young president


a nurse brought masks for tears

scribbled nothing

in her chart


six contractions —

Catherine in my arms


less time

than it had taken him to die

and certainly less pain


(Rochester, Minnesota, the Mayo Clinic, the world into which I had conceived and born my daughters, altered for all time!)

2 thoughts on “THAT NIGHT — 11/23/63: a Different Mother’s Day

  1. Doctor Kemper had seen me early on Friday November 22 — He laughed, saying goodbye that morning. “I’ll see you in two weeks. You don’t have any seven pound nine ounce baby in there!” There were no rooms in the hospital on the 23rd –they took me straight into the delivery rooms — no labor rooms, and many women were on cots in the hallways afterwards. The six contractions were very far apart. In the delivery room, the anaesthesiologist asked, “Have you had a pain since you came in here?” I laughed — “It wasn’t MY idea to come right in here.”

    I only went to the hospital with Werner because he was going to make rounds. If I hadn’t gone, my mother (there to take care of Diane when I went in) would’ve delivered that baby in the living room! I called Mother, who was going to come in a cab to get me and take me home because the pains had been so far apart. Two at home, four in the hospital. “Should I come get you?”, asked Mother. “I don’t think they’ll let me leave.” “Why?” “You have another granddaughter!” “But, Carolyn, you just left!”

    Catherine was at least two weeks early, a ‘scrawny chicken’ of 6 lbs. 2 oz. Werner and my mother made me learn to drink beer so I could fatten her up. We were going to name her Linda, for my closest friend then, Penelope. But she wasn’t beautiful and Linda means beauty. I don’t know where Catherine’s name came from, but they wouldn’t let me leave (sent me home early because I wasn’t worn out and they needed my room. No five-day stay that time like the year before) without naming that child.

    Then she turned into this statuesque blonde beauty who turned heads at our Chatham house whenever she walked out the front door. Every head on the beach lifted to watch her. The same thing happened whenever I visited her at the Princeton campus. It was all so good, and then it wasn’t. Thanks for responding. love and light to you in YOUR amazing motherhood! c

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