My Birthday Story

angel birth?

angel birth?

By Patricia Zick @PCZick

I’ll admit today’s post is highly self-indulgent and probably borders on sheer fiction. But it’s my birthday, and to paraphrase Lesley Gore, I’ll write anything I want to. This is the story of my birth as told to me by people no longer around to dispute my account of it. All memory is fiction anyway, so here is mine.

On a dark and dreary Thursday afternoon two days before Christmas, my mother felt the first contractions.

She ignored them as she prepared Christmas for her four sons, ranging in age from sixteen to five.

By four o’clock, she could no longer fight the eight-pound bundle knocking down below. As snow began to fall outside, she called my father at work.

“Meet me at the hospital,” she said.

My mother walked the four blocks to the large rambling house serving as the hospital in our small Michigan town. The snow, heavy and wet, continued to fall.

Rowe Memorial Hospital in Stockbridge, Michigan is now a private residence.

Rowe Memorial Hospital in Stockbridge, Michigan is now a private residence.

With the holiday looming and the snowstorm producing, the doctor on duty sent home his staff by the time my mother arrived. When the doctor determined my imminent birth, he did the only thing he could. He enlisted my father as his assistant.

The year was 1954, and my mother had given birth four times before. Fathers didn’t go near the delivery room in those days. It’s doubtful if he was even at the hospital when my brothers were born.

The doctor instructed my father to hold the bottle of ether under my mother’s nose as needed for pain as the contractions came closer and closer together. My mother said my father became stingy with the anesthetic at one point, and that was a mistake.

“Give me the damn ether – I’ve done this a few times before, and I know what I need,” she screamed.

My father gave her what she desired.

About two hours after my mother’s call to my father, I entered the world at 6:15 p.m. My father stared in wonderment at the screaming creature in his hands.

He gave my mother news she’d wanted for a very long time, “It’s a girl.”

Baby Patti with her mother

Baby Patti with her mother

My father rushed home to my four older brothers watching my family’s first black and white television set purchased only months before. He rushed into the living room and said, “Boys, you have a baby sister!”

They looked up from the TV. One of the brothers asked, “What’s for dinner?” before turning back to the tiny screen in the large cabinet.

Four boys and a girl - 1973

Four boys and a girl – 1973

My mother stayed in the hospital for ten days and wrote my brothers a note, which I still have in my baby book. However, I can’t find the baby book, and I can’t find a photo of me with my father except for one printed in a newspaper when I was ten. In all my moves in the past seven years, things have been lost and rearranged. As a result, I write this blog in honor of my fifty-eighth birthday on December 23 as a way of preserving the story of my birth.

My brothers eventually took an interest in the sister they never quite understood, my mother kept me in ribbons and lace until ’60s hit, and for the rest of my father’s life, I remained “Daddy’s little girl.”Tigers

Angels Live Lightly

By Patricia Zick @PCZick

A young woman at the doctor’s office treated me rudely the other day. The details aren’t important, but my reaction is. For a few minutes on an otherwise pleasant day, I allowed another person to define me. Then I realized that woman isn’t just rude to me; it’s the world she treats this way. In turn, she perpetuates her attitude because she gets back what she gives out. One day perhaps someone will assist her in turning it around. On the day I encountered her, it wasn’t me.

After I left the office, I decided not to let her darkness of soul become an imprint on me. Many more angels skip through my life and those are the ones I want to emulate. I moved to Pittsburgh two years ago not knowing anyone but my new husband. In that time, I’ve encountered more kindness than meanness.

First, there’s our neighbor Rich who magically appears in our driveway every time the snow covers the pavement. Sometimes I hear the putt-putt of his tractor before I realize snow has started to fall. I’ll look out the window and there’s Rich with his plow clearing our steep driveway. Then he leaves to do his own. Whenever we thank him, he humbly says, “I’m out there anyway.” I suspect he knows how difficult it’s been for me to adjust to the winters in Pennsylvania after thirty years of living in Florida.

Since I work at home, my main social activity is going to the gym to work out and take dance classes. The owners of Body Buzz, John and Carmella, and their staff pay it forward every single day by participating in a variety of local charitable projects. Right now, they’re stuffing stockings for the military with items donated by all the members. They are sponsors for the local chapter of ElderCare and many of us are adopting an older person for Christmas. Also, raffles and sales have been ongoing the past month for the family of a local state police officer killed in the line of duty. This type of work is not just for the holidays – it’s ongoing year round. They do many projects for the local Humane Society chapter as well. The spirit of the owners and employees multiplies out to the members who are kind souls not only keeping in shape but making our world a better place.

Then there’s the woman at Pennsylvania Macaroni Company in The Strip District in downtown Pittsburgh. I fell in love with shopping there in my first months of living here. But when I really knew this place captured my heart was my first encounter with Carol Pascuzzi at the cheese counter. Most people refer to her as “dear heart” because that’s what she calls everyone who steps  up to her counter. I’ve always hated to be called “honey” and “sweetheart” by strangers because it seems so phoney. But “dear heart” from Carol as she hands me a slice of ten-year aged white cheddar cheese makes me smile.

dear heart

I told her I wanted to write about her in this blog about nice folks in Pittsburgh. She said, “It’s simple really. I treat everyone as I want to be treated.”

It’s true, tested, and simple. She makes me strive to be a “dear heart.”

I need to introduce Carol to a certain doctor’s receptionist.

Who are the angels living lightly in your life and heart?