— From EF —
I’m writing this on Sunday morning; it’s my birthday. Seventy-five years ago I was born in the midst of Brooklyn’s worst blizzard in four years — four people died in the immediate area, more than twenty-five along the Eastern seaboard.
I wonder how Mary Fuller got to the hospital? When did her water break? How hard was the labor? And when did she see and touch me for the last time? She’d been approached during her pregnancy by a go-between attorney, had agreed to an anonymous adoption, and would never know anything more.
She was twenty-three, her lover was twenty-nine. She gave me life and let me go. I wish I knew something about these invisible parents, but maybe I need to let them go too. And that would be easier to do if there hadn’t been another gift — my name. I’m barred by law from seeing my original birth certificate, but there are birth-record books for each of New York City’s five boroughs. Brooklyn 1940 didn’t list “baby girl Fuller.” What’s there is “Elizabeth Fuller.”
Thank you, Tim Cooley, for that search, and thank you, Mama for my name. Nearly twenty years ago I reclaimed that name legally, and I wear it with love and pride.
— From the Fool —
When I was real little, maybe five, my mom gave me a birthday party.
I don’t know where she got all the kids. The only ones I played with were Kenny and Denny, who went to jail when they had to grow up. We mostly played Cowboys & Indians or War, but with War it was hard to remember who the bad guys were, being as the news was always changing its mind. Indians, you could count on.
But there were a bunch of kids and we had a cake and Kool-aid and played games. My mom didn’t know many games but she knew Pin the Tail on the Donkey. There’s a picture of a donkey and a tail with a pin and they blindfold you and you try to hit its butt. You miss and pin it on his nose and all the kids laugh. That’s supposed to be fun.
(This was way before Grand Theft Auto.)
So it was my turn and I stuck it on his ear and they laughed and some little girl stuck it right up the wazoo, so she won. The prize was a candy cane left over from last Christmas.
I went into the bedroom and hid under the bed. My mom found me after a while and asked what’s wrong. What it was, it was my birthday and my party, so I should have won the game. The brutal injustice of the world laid itself out before me, so I hid under the bed. But I couldn’t tell her that.
They say it’s not if you win or lose, but how you play the game. But even at age five you know better. Ask the Indians.
— From CB —
Birthdays. Having a fair collection of them thus far, I should be able to find something notable to say on the subject, but it eludes me. When I was a kid, of course, I loved to get presents, and now I love hugging my mate and my kids (if they’re within hugging distance) on theirs. But I feel a bit distant from my own.
Way back there in time, a couple of months before Pearl Harbor, 31-yr-old Margaret was in a Denver hospital working like hell to birth this 8 lb. 12 oz. question mark, and eventually I popped out. (I likely saw my own shadow and tried to duck back in, but they grabbed me by the toes and sentenced me to life.) I hadn’t done a damned thing to help.
So for me, I guess, celebrating my birthday is like winning a prize for a book I didn’t write. It was that lady who did all the work. If she were still alive I’d use Mothers’ Day to celebrate her putting food on the table and my birthday to celebrate that hard labor.
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© Bishop & Fuller 2015