The Birth Date
Written by Myron J. Clifton
“Your birthday is not tomorrow. He’s wrong. Trust me, if anyone knows the day you were born it’s me. And we will start celebrating it on the correct day starting this year,” Mom said, shutting down the conversation that had gone on for years.
It was Thursday, June 19th, and my family and I thought I turned ten years old the next day, June 20th, but Mom had just changed my world and upset the family order with her pronouncement.
“Your actual birthday is June twenty-second. So, you will get your gift in three days.” She said, ending the discussion and dismissing me and my follow-up questions that veered off into plots stolen straight out of my comic books.
“How could my birthday change? How did we get mixed up? Can I have two birthdays? Am I adopted and you just aren’t certain of the actual day? Was I created in a lab, or by aliens, and now my superpowers are about to manifest?”
Mom just smiled and told me to go outside to play.
It was a typical almost-summer day in Oakland and the weather was beautiful. The fruit trees, which provided our free sweet treats, were full and the neighborhood kids were out in full force ready to play all day, drink from water hoses, and trying to stay out past the street lights coming on and fog rolling in.
So, of course I sat down to watch cartoons and stay inside as long as I could hoping she wouldn’t notice I was indoors all day until it was too late to send me outside.
It was Friday and school was out and all I wanted to do was.. Nothing.
But I also was patiently waiting to smell Mom making my birthday cake. It was all I wanted: yellow cake with chocolate frosting. Simple, classic, and the best she made.
After a couple of hours of not smelling a thing, I asked Mom when she planned to make my cake, since my birthday was the following day.
“I’ll make it on your birthday.”
“But it is my birthday,” I said to start the discussion all over again.
“It’s not. And I’ll prove it. Come on, we’re going to run an errand,” Mom said, gathering her things and forcing me to rush to put on clothes and leave with her for a trip to downtown for a visit to the Courthouse.
In the days before internet and online requests for official documents, the quickest and mostly the only way to get a birth certificate was to visit the County Court, fill out a form, wait in line, pay a small fee, and then wait for the service person to find the certificate on microfiche and then print a copy.
So that’s what we did.
We sat in the waiting section for about an hour as our request was being processed. Mom assured me she was correct because, again, she would know the exact day and moment a baby came out of her – a third boy no less. And to add to it, she said she’d cried when I came out because after two boys she desperately wanted a girl. So when the doctor handed her the third boy in three years she said the tears just burst out and then I started crying and there we were, both crying in the hospital as the doctors and nurses looked on.
“Okay, ma’am, here you go. Here’s your certificate.” The kind service lady said handing Mom my birth certificate and breaking up Mom’s story.
“Let me see let me see!” I yelled excitedly, while pulling Mom’s arm down so I could find out for certain what she already knew.
And typical of Mom when she what she was right she simply handed me the document and said: “Go ahead. I’m know I’m right.”
The ride home was easy and quiet as I studied the document that proved many things: I wasn’t adopted; I’m not an alien; there probably weren’t any superpowers coming; and, like Mom said all along was she was right about the date her third son was born.
So on June 22nd, 1974, I was able to celebrate my birthday on the correct day for the first time.
I also enjoyed the two-day delayed yellow cake with chocolate frosting that tasted extra good that year.
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