“To fill your life with joy and happiness, the greatest gift that you can give is love and kindness. Wishing you a memorable birthday!” ― Debasish Mridha
Forty-two years ago today, Karen and I left a movie theater before the show was over and made a hasty trip to the Kaiser Hospital on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood, California, where our son, John was born. We had had Lamaze or “natural childbirth” classes because Karen was not doing what she did with our first child. With Chris, she did the drugs and after almost twenty-four hours of labor, he had to be delivered with forceps. She knew she wasn’t going to go that route again, so she and I learned all about breathing, timing, and how to limit the pain of childbirth. We were watching the movie, “Spies” when she started having contractions, so we hopped into our Volkswagen Beetle and started the twenty-five mile trip to the hospital. I was excited as I was a trained coach and began coaching as I drove down the freeway. We got to the hospital quickly (for Los Angeles) and they took Karen in to prepare her. Me, I got to scrub up and put on a hospital gown. When I turned around to begin my coaching Karen through the childbirth, they handed my son, John, to me. Seems Karen had just popped him out like popcorn. I told them to put him back, I had coaching I had trained for months to do, but they just laughed at me. By hospital regulation, they had to put Karen in a recovery room with lots of other women who had just given birth, but they were all drugged up and Karen (who had had no drugs at all) was up and trying to find someone to play Twenty Questions with or gin rummy or something other than just sleeping off drugs. John never cried like most newborns, he just looked around and tried to learn everything he could—something that has never left him. He was awfully cute, that little dude. As it was now around seven at night and Karen would spend the night and go home the next day, my friend Charlie Byrd came by and he and I went and ate barbecue on Sunset Boulevard to celebrate John’s birth. A lot has happened in the intervening forty-two years, almost all of it wonderful and good. John still has the sense of wonder and joy of discovery with which he was born, and we are very glad he does. Thanks to that sense of wonder, there are villages here getting water, villages that have solar lights, villages that have been taught sanitation and hygiene, and schools that will be getting free computers. I think God may be as proud as we are of what and who he has become. Happy birthday, son.