I have it memorized now.
“Date of birth?”
I move to the next station. “Mr. Bradbury?” I nod. “Date of birth?”
I take a wild guess what the question will be at the next desk, and wonder how I ever got into the Passavant parking lot without giving my birthday. But life’s too short to be bored so I thought that maybe I’d add a little variety at the next medical stop.
“Date of birth?”
“Oh yes. I have one. In fact, I’ve had it nearly all my life.”
“I mean what’s the date you were born?”
“It was a Thursday…or maybe a Friday. Look, I was really small and it’s hard to remember everything. It was a busy day for mom and I.”
“Do you have a birthday?”
“We all do or we wouldn’t be there.”
“When were you born?”
“I remember it was chilly…or maybe it was just the operating room. I can recall being wet so maybe that caused the sudden drop in temperature. I was born Caesarian, you know, so I sort of came out facing the light. Don’t remember much about the doctor.”
“I only need your date of birth.”
“Mom did, too. That’s why she had me Caesarian. Now I remember…she was a female doctor….not that common in 1949. Dr. Sinnock. Sort of a spindly old lady, but I was easier to lift back then. She and her brother, Dr. Germann, had an office in Quincy, right at 14th street across from the high school. You familiar with Quincy?”
The gal behind the counter started to inch her finger toward the “call for help” button so I settled down a bit.
“Sorry…you wanted my date of birth?”
“It’s in November…it was a really pretty November. I can remember thinking as we drove home, ‘You know, I can’t remember ever seeing a November this spectacular!’ Of course I hadn’t seen all that many at this point in my life.”
I think this is when I might have gone one step over the line. The very sweet young thing behind the Passavant outpatient desk put down her pen, took off her half-glasses and looked at me. She smiled.
I managed sheepish grin and said, “November 7th 1949.”
She sighed a medical smile and checked my answer against my official Passavant record. But it’s been like this ever since I was little, and I couldn’t help myself. I blurted out, “Billy Graham was born on the same day. I mean, he was born in another year but we have the same birthday.” She informed me that was nice and told me how to get to the blood drawing station . . . where they asked me my date of birth. I told the truth this time . . . simply.
It was a good fun, I hope, and dog-gone it if I hear another person complain about our local hospital I’m tempted to grab them by the ears and wring them out. I left Arenzville at 8:15 in the morning and was back home drinking coffee by 9 a.m. All ye complainers should compare that to drive to Springfield, winding your way through city traffic, walking a quarter mile across a hot parking lot, trying to find the proper door then the proper floor then the proper set of rooms. Are you nuts? And believe me, the folks who live close to the Springfield, Quincy, and Decatur hospitals complain about their own state-of-the-art medical facility. Hey! When you’re sick you’re in a bad mood and the hospital didn’t cause that. We should all thank God around Jacksonville that we have such a professional and efficient facility right next door. Some people were born to gripe, but thank God some were born to heal.
Our town’s largest employers, a lively and welcoming place despite the work they have to do out there, and a God-send for anyone in need. We can disagree on politics, religion, and whether we want our Subway sandwich on a bun or toasted flat bread, but let’s all get a brain in our head and agree that Passavant is a blessing.
Besides as we age we tend to forget dates and I thank Passavant for helping me keep in practice.