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Beginnings

July 13, 2022

(from endless editing)

After the war my mother’s immediate career was bearing children. With her first three baby deliveries, my mother was in a New York City hospital, and completely “under”. Her first attempt at motherhood had gone horribly wrong. At 30, when she went into labor for the first time, she was encouraged to “hold off” delivering as long as she could because her doctor would be back “later” – so she was put under (as all in her class were at that time) and awoke to find her first born child, Stevens Winthrop Dickinson was “stillborn”. I have no doubt had he lived, I would not have been born – a complicated sibling relationship.

Whether it happened at the doctor’s 2nd Tee or at the 19th Hole, the umbilical cord was wrapped around my brother’s neck, and he died before living.

Death screaming at them in all its cruelty, my parents immediately responded with another new life, my sister – and she was “Perfect”. She was as beautiful as her mother, healthy and vital. But it had been a rough ride, and my parents waited five years before creating their first-born living son, his name memorializing their lost son: Winthrop Stevens Dickinson.

For reasons that remain unclear, once they found a home, they opted to have a third child. I am pretty sure that even in their ’40’s I was not a ‘mistake” as my mother later shared stories of all her friends’ abortions during these years of transition to a suburban nursery.

The day of my birth, August 21, was hot. I was born in Middle Suburbia, in Middle 20th Century at the beginning of a universally unique drama. Floods were ranging through Pennsylvania. It was the 8th month of 1955, every one of which had been in pregnancy for my mother, now soon over.

The drugs were administered but fewer of them for this fourth time in the eleven years and three previous pregnancies. Yet there would be little awareness of birth, save awakening to a visiting baby, soon rushed out of sight, for feeding. Being a boy, immediate circumcision. 

As it was for her previous children, mother’s milk was inferior to manmade nutrition. My father was absent for the messy necessity of birth, as were all his compatriots as well. Then, after two nights recovery in the little Dobbs Ferry Hospital, my mother came home to the home of five-and ten-year-old siblings, long out of diapers fully enmeshed in schooling. It was clear that in the 1950’s my parents were exhausted, so they opted for the easy name selection: after my Dad: George Arthur Dickinson, Jr.. I have no idea when, but to distinguish me, in utero, from by father they code-named me “Duo” (for “Junior”) and it stuck: like Muffy or Buffy or Skip or Trip (had I been the third).

The parties were over. The jazz was on the HiFi, and Manhattan was a nice place to visit. Meals were now nutritious from fresh frozen or canned, work was from a railroad with days started and ended by the train schedule. But this third child was the last brick in building the family wall to the world after the chaos of war. The new Family Home was being fully remade in the hopes of the parents, now filled by three new humans not even considered a dozen years before.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. July 14, 2022 9:34 am

    Thank you

  2. wes permalink
    July 14, 2022 11:52 am

    your birth was an epic

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