This time of year I think about birthdays.
When I was born, it was pretty simple for my parents.
I was born at home.
In the same bed in which I was conceived.
Hey, they didn't do kinky.
The doctor came to the house.
That's just what they did in Malta in 1950.
Five years later, Ma was pregnant again.
This time she was living in New York.
Not exactly The Big Apple.
College Point. Queens.
Ma had to go to the doctor's office.
Then she had to go to a hospital.
Two beds were involved in my sister's birth.
That's just what they did in New York in 1955.
Ah, yes, the American doctor....
Ma had lost two babies, so she was told to see a specialist.
His office was in Forest Hills, not in College Point.
Ma had to transfer to a second bus to get to his office.
Ma tended to handle travel badly.
She wasn't thrilled when we were on the boat coming to America.
Switching buses wasn't her favorite thing.
Pregnancy hormones didn't help.
I know because I was there.
Usually she got on the right bus.
But, there was one time she didn't.
I was delighted, pointing out the different scenery and houses.
Then Ma screamed.
A screaming pregnant woman sure can get attention.
Especially an over nine months pregnant woman.
Due any minute.
And it showed.
By the time the bus driver came to us, Ma was in tears.
Ma waved the doctor's appointment card in the driver's face.
He took a look at it and told us we'd have to switch to another bus.
He wrote down the number of the bus on the appointment card.
He promised it would get us near the doctor's office.
Ma got a transfer and we got off at a new bus stop.
A new bus stopped.
I checked the number on the bus against the number on the card.
Okay, we were on our way.
It was March in New York. Everything was green.
We had to walk a little further than normal, but I didn't mind.
The folks in that area sure liked to decorate their houses.
Everything looked so pretty.
Green shamrocks and leprechauns were everywhere.
Some folks even had leprechauns on their lawns.
There were green shamrocks on the doctor's door and on his walls.
He had paper leprechauns on the tables holding the magazines.
There were pots of candies wrapped in gold foil under the lamps.
Okay, I could match numbers.
Geography wasn't my strong suit.
Not when I was almost 5 years old.
I believed that we were in Ireland.
College Point had Irish people, but the stores didn't go in for big Irish displays.
We lived on the main drag, and there wasn't much greenery there.
Most of the customers were German.
Most of the shop owners were, too.
March was just another month.
That was the last time we went to see that doctor.
A week later my sister was born.
Ma and I had just been to Ireland.
It just made sense.
My sister came from Ireland.