March 2, 2021


Mother and son in front of MacGregor Drive bay window

Tuesday, March 2, 1971, was a rainy springlike morning in Columbia, South Carolina.  Our second child was expected any day now and Harriett had already arrived to look after Heather when we went to the hospital.  I noticed pink buds on the Japanese magnolia tree outside our MacGregor Drive den window.  Feeling hungry, I ate a big breakfast.  Within an hour or two, I realized this was the day our baby was coming.

I called the OB-GYN office, then alerted Tom to cancel classes and get ready to go to the hospital. Since it was raining, I wore my seventies boots on the short drive down Beltline to the hospital on Forest Drive! 

As we were leaving for the hospital, Tom knelt down to reassure Heather (almost three) he would be back later that day and I would spend the night at the hospital with the new baby and then come home the next day.  He asked her what he could bring her when he came home later, and without hesitation, she said, “A red firetruck!”

There were four obstetricians in the practice, and for prenatal visits, expectant mothers would see them in sequence. Whoever was on call would deliver the baby.  My doctor, James Blair, was my favorite.  He had suggested we go to the smaller Catholic hospital—Providence—for the birth because Tom was terrified of hospitals.  All the doctors were excellent but one had a very abrasive manner and I felt least comfortable with him.  Of course, he was the doctor on call that March 2.

After a quick check by nurses, I was taken directly to a room while Tom paced in the hospital lobby.  Dr. Williamson popped in to check on my progress and told me he was going across the street to Drake’s Restaurant for a quick cheeseburger.  “You’ll have quite a wait,” he said briskly. “Don’t count on it,” I told him.

Before his order got to the table, he was paged to meet me in the delivery room STAT!  A healthy little baby boy was born just minutes later.  We hadn’t known whether we were having a boy or girl—and it was wonderful to have “one of each” in the family.

Tom joined me back in the room and gingerly held his newborn son for the first time.  We’d decided on the name Patrick Lawrence—Patrick for ta Confederate Major General Patrick Ronayne Cleburne (born on St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland) and Lawrence, Tom’s middle name.  After visiting a few minutes, Tom needed to get some fresh air!  He kissed baby Patrick and me goodbye and said, “I’ll go get the firetruck now.”  A nurse’s aide in the room had a puzzled look, and after he left, she remarked, “Your husband doesn’t look like a fireman!”  Indeed.  Heather got her red firetruck as promised and the next day, she met her new baby brother Patrick.

Welcome home, baby brother!

Tuesday’s child is full of grace.  Happy 50th birthday on this Tuesday in 2021, dear Patrick!

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