On this date, 58 years ago, at 4:11 a.m. PST, I took my first breath, in Santa Barbara, California.
It was a Saturday morning. I know this without even looking at a calendar because Mother told me several times that she sat on her suitcase by the door, in early labor, waiting for Dad to finish watching his Friday night boxing match on television.
According to her, I was the only one born ‘on time’ – Scott was born almost 2 months early; Sheila was 17 days beyond her due date; and Shannon was 38 days after due date, she’d already begun losing weight, and the county had to induce or she might have never come out.
I was also the only one born actually in the delivery room. The rest were born down in the labor room – once she started hard labor there was no waiting, apparently.
I was born at a time when people did not know the sex of their babies until they were actually born. Mother’s favorite storybook as a child was about a boy and his dog, “Scotty and Sandy.” She wanted a boy and a girl with those names. Her first child was Roy Scott, so she had her Scotty (which she called him for many years), and I was to be Rachel Sandra when I showed up so she could call me Sandy. Since I showed up with unexpected plumbing, I was named Ray Sanford, so she could call me Sandy.
That horrid (to my mind) name stuck until 9th grade, including on all my school records. Because of the unusual circumstances of that year, I had to enroll myself in a different school as a new school year approached, and I wrote my full name as Ray S. Whiting. Even when I went back home later that year to live with my dad and siblings again, I insisted my real name be used in school. My family didn’t give in until I went in the Air Force.
Mother was the most difficult to convince that I should be called by the name she gave me on my birth certificate. She was born Kathryn Yvonne Maben, and was called Kym her entire life by both her mother and her father (they divorced when Mother was 3). She hated the name Kym, even though it was her initials, but her mother insisted on using that name and never ever used any other name, although Mother always used Kathy for herself. As someone who despised the name her mother used on her, she should have readily understood why it was important to honor my own wishes to use my given name instead of a nickname. But she was stubborn.
So anyway, on 27 November 1954, I came into the world, and I have now made it 58 years, mostly on my own real name. 🙂