STORY FROM A STRAGGLER
This story was told to me by a young man who came, on his own, to a birth film night that I hosted in Vancouver, BC. It was strange to have a 19-ish year old man in a room full of women. He said he had come because he saw the event advertised in a local paper and he thought it might be important in his future to know about birth. After the films ended, people milled about for a while chatting but, then, everyone dispersed except for him. He seemed to be loitering around. I wasn’t afraid to be alone in a building with him—he had such a pleasant way of being. As I packed up my gear and replaced things in the room, he said “Gloria, I’ve stayed behind because I want to tell you a story.” I was all ears. This is the story that the straggler recounted that night.
“My mother was born at home in Berlin, Germany. In Germany, it’s different from here. When someone has an apartment they stay in it their whole lives and sometimes pass it down through generations. It’s not like here where people move around a lot. In the old days, when my grandmother felt it was time to give birth, she would knock on her bedroom wall and that was a signal for her neighbor to come over and assist her with the birth. My grandmother did the same for her neighbor when the roles were reversed. So, my mother was born in my grandmother’s bed. They were very close mother and daughter but my mother ended up falling in love with a Canadian and moved to Canada after she was married. She would take every vacation opportunity to fly back to Germany and be with my grandmother.
One day we got the news that grandmother had cancer and was dying. The doctors gave her six months to live. My mother took a leave of absence from her work and flew to Germany to be with her mother through this passage. The night that my grandmother died, my mother was holding my grandmother in her arms in the same bed and bedroom that my mother had been born in.”
That young man’s story has stayed with me. I’m so glad he came to my event and that he felt it was important to share with me. The more I ponder on this story, the more I think about him and I wonder if he has had children of his own. I think that, because he was the son and grandson of those two women, is why I felt so safe with him. Love Gloria
p.s. thanks for your encouragement to tell these stories, Babz Covington and Carla Hartley. I love you both so much. Please share your stories, too.