A Real Mother’s Day: My Stuff & Stories May 12

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This photo of my mother and me is in a “memory book” she gave me for my 52nd birthday. She died May 25, 2009, at age 92.

Early in the morning of Friday, May 12, 1944, Elsie Louise Koch Fagerlin realized she was going into labor. Even though she and her family had moved to a new town just ten days earlier, she had everything well organized. Her mother was on hand to care for the two older children, Carol, about to turn seven, and Mark, who’d just turned five. Elsie, an attractive twenty-eight-year-old, figured she had time to paint her toe nails before leaving for the hospital, just twenty-five miles away. So she did.

She didn’t take into account that her beloved husband Carl had a knack for getting lost nor that this particular baby was in a big hurry to join the family. As Carl attempted to steer while simultaneously checking on his wife, she’d insist, “Never mind me. Just drive!” When they finally arrived at Swedish Hospital in downtown Minneapolis, Carl rushed to sign in his wife while nurses rushed Elsie directly to the delivery room.

It wasn’t long before she was holding me for the first time and later remembered being thankful “that you made it here so quickly.”

Maybe I was trying to catch up with my name, which they’d decided upon five years earlier. Pregnant with Mark, my mother was certain she was going to have twins. She herself had a twin brother and, she explained, “I was so big!” They decided that the twin names would be Mark Louis and Mary Louise. Cute. I’m sure my brother is as relieved as I that we had a convenient five-year gap between us.

Every once in a while my birthday falls on Mother’s Day, as it has this year. Some time ago I realized that we have things backwards when we celebrate birthdays. Our birthdays should be the real mothers’ days, when we recognize that the biggest birthday gift we’ll ever get is the life they gave us.

(To celebrate my 75th birthday this month, I’m posting daily stories about the stuff I’ve acquired over a lifetime and can’t let go of. I invite you to consider and possibly share the stories that make you treasure your own stuff.)

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