Monday, October 17, 2005


Every year, on October 18th, my Mother tells me a story.

In 1975, my Father was a graduate student. My Mother was a nurse. They were poor. Both worked long and hard. My father held 3 jobs -- he worked as a plumber, television repairman and janitor. On top of that he took classes, taught courses and conducted research. No, he didn't get much sleep. My Mother worked in a burn unit, assisting patients with unspeakable injuries. With three mouths to feed, they simply weren't able to save enough money to afford another child, much less it's birth. Health care didn't exist at the time for graduate students and their families.

My Father did everything he could. He saved every penny possible. By the time month nine hit, there just wasn't enough money. My Mother went into labor. He raced her and my three siblings to the hospital. My Mother remained in labor for 18 hours. The child was an emergency breach case. One wrong move and she and the child would not survive.

Hospital administrators told my Father that my Mother would have to be moved to a county hospital. "Please," my Father pleaded, "It's an abnormal breach case. I'll do whatever it takes. I'll pay this bill. I can give you my word -- that's all I have." The administrators insisted. A doctor walking past overheard the conversation. "Sir, is that your wife in labor in room 2?" "Yes," my Father replied. The doctor turned to the administrator and said, "She stays here. If you're worried about the bill, forget it. I'll pick it up." The doctor delivered the child, a baby boy. My Father later landed a well paying job and paid the doctor in full, just as he'd promised.

I have been told this story once a year, every year of my life. My Mother concludes the tale by reminding me, "Son, you came into this world through the kindness of a stranger. Remember that. This is the legacy that you must continue with all people. Show them the same kindness and generosity that our family received from that doctor. That is the debt that you must repay. Remember that."

On this, my 30th birthday, I celebrate not my life, but those of the people that have helped me make it this far. My Father and Mother, who worked so hard to provide. My Brother and two Sisters, who continue to help me find smooth passage through turbulent times. My Wife, who continues to amaze me with her unending love. My Friends, who have supported me and established themselves as part of my extended family. The good doctor that saved my and my Mother's life. Lest I forget, you the reader. Thank you.


Blogger RT said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

1:29 AM  
Blogger RT said...

Vavoom! Happy 30th Birthday... Old man!

Thank you Mom, Dad, Wife, Sis(es?) and Bro, as well as ALL the strangers who have contributed to this man's life.

I am forever in your debt for bringing such a fine man into this world.

1:39 AM  
Blogger Megan said...

That's beautiful. I cried most of the way through that post. Happy Birthday.

8:30 AM  
Blogger Teri said...

Happy 30th birthday Vavoom!

I really think your parents or you need to write a book, it is very inspirational.

8:32 AM  
Anonymous FNPhD said...

Damn. 30. That's old.

Happy birthday.

10:52 AM  
Anonymous PhatPharma said...

I've now known you more than a third of your life. That time has included Moon Dance serenades belted at unsuspecting lovers on the street below, uncomfortable Taco Bell moments at the Berkeley Marina, and surreal midnight office chair rides through the bowels of San Francisco. I'm thankful for you. Happy birthday.

10:59 AM  
Blogger Linny said...

Happy Birthday...

I call each of my daughters at the time they were born each year and scream... asking them... "does that sound familiar? it should... it was the first sound you heard!!!"

1:49 PM  
Blogger LoraLoo said...

Vavoom: Happy, Happy Birthday!! I'd sing, but you don't want your ears to bleed.

Thanks for yet another very touching story. Once again you had me on the verge of tears. Happy ones!

2:03 PM  
Anonymous Sister Vavoom said...

Yes, you may not have been planned, but you are such a joy to our family. I cannot imagine not having you to grow up with, we had so many fun times. You are a true blessing. I am thankful to have you for a brother. I love you dearly.

2:05 PM  
Blogger Lily said...

Great story V, Happy Birthday.

5:27 PM  
Blogger An80sNut said...

Happy 30th, Vavoom!!

I do think it's kinda lousy to have that onus upon you while you were so young but I have to say that you've bore the weight of that very well and continue to better the lives of those around you. I also thank the good doctor for bringing you into this world. Keep bringing your wisdom, wit and potty humor to the masses. B)

5:53 PM  
Blogger A Fashionista said...



And I mean that with love luv.

6:45 PM  
Blogger FJ said...

WOW! What an inspiring story.

Happy Birthday, Vavoom!

I wish you all the very best.


6:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You know what they say about breach babies- they are so damn special!

7:24 PM  
Blogger Bar Bar A said...

Big huge birthday hug to you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 30 is so young!!!

This story is beautiful, your parents sound like wonderful people.

9:37 PM  
Blogger Jenn said...

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to one of the smartest and kindest men I know here in the blog 'o sphere.

Vavoom, I hope I don't sound stalker-ish, but this gave me chills and teared me up. I can't believe that on YOUR birthday you're thanking others. You're truly unique. I'm glad I found you here.

And now that I've read the other comments, I don't feel so stalker-ish and know that I'm not the only thankful for finding you.

4:13 AM  
Blogger Jenn said...

P.S. Your mother is as wise as your father, it seems. I guess it's really flowing through your blood.

4:15 AM  
Blogger The Disgruntled Chemist said...

Happy birthday, Vavoom. Hope the next 30 are great for you.

I really enjoyed this post, too.

9:32 AM  
Anonymous Daniel said...


Sorry I missed this. Happy Birthday. And yes, we both know that I am much older than you. However, I still remember 30. Guess what? It gets better.

7:54 AM  

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