The first woman to see me naked is lying six feet down in the silt of the Susquehanna River. It’s a small cemetery in a small community…not even a town or village…just a cluster of houses several miles down river from the town where I grew up.
On the last day of May, I will celebrate the moment she saw me, not only naked but bloody and dripping wet. What makes this so very powerful an image for me is that she was the first person, woman or man, who witnessed the first moments of my existence on this planet. She saw the tip of my head before my own mother did.
She was the doctor who delivered me 68 years ago in some long forgotten room that was once the birthing ward of Binghamton General Hospital. It’s probably been converted to a storage area.
Maybe not. Maybe babies are still being born in that same room. That makes thousands of people connected to me…somehow.
Her name was Dr. Myrtle M. Wilcox Vincent and she is buried next to her husband in the Smithboro Cemetery.
My mother never explained to me why she chose to be cared for by one of the very few practicing woman doctors in the late 1940’s. I’m glad she chose Dr. Wilcox because I was a successful birth with no complications that I know of. This good doctor freed me into this world. She probably slapped my bottom to make me cry and gasp for air. She cut the umbilical cord, separating me from my mother who hauled me around for nine months. Like a harbormaster, she gave a tiny boat (me) a push from the calm water of the womb into the troubled and turbulent waters of life’s vast oceans. The next person in my life who will do a similar duty is the priest who will put me back into the womb again…the womb of the earth.
Ever since I recalled her name and traced her gravesite, I’ve been wondering how many time she drove past my house, or crossed paths with me while shopping in Owego.
I was forty years old when she passed away. I would have loved to have met her and looked her in the eye…and thanked her for doing what she was supposed to do…getting me into the air that I would breath for the rest of my days.
Standing near the grave of the first person to ever see you is thought-provoking.
[Photo credit: Paul R.]