My mom’s in a locked-down assisted living facility. She has dementia with a tendency to walk away, which is supremely sad, but in life we have to find the funny.
I found Mom sitting in a chair in the TV room when I first arrived. At the end of my visit, I took her back to the same chair. The lady who was there when Mom’s face lit up seeing me was still there. Mom leaned into her:
Mom: This is my daughter.
Lady: Oh, hello.
Me: Hi. What’s your name?
Me: Hi, Dorothy. I’m Alicia.
Dorothy: That’s a pretty name.
Me: Thank you. She gave it to me, for my birthday.
Dorothy: That was very thoughtful of her.
Me: Indeed, it was. <— I laughed here
Mom: This is my daughter.
I smiled at Dorothy, who said “Nice to meet you” as if we hadn’t just met seconds earlier. Maybe she has dementia, too. I smiled and said “hello” again.
—> I laughed because though I was born during a blizzard in February of 1973, I wasn’t planned. My parents had my brother and sister and we’re done, except for the “lustful night in May.” That’s how Mom described why I had a birthday in the middle of fucking winter.
I never complained out loud to her about my birthday ever again.
We lived in Cleveland; it was always miserable and cold. I could never have an outside birthday party. Well, I could have, but I didn’t like winter back then either. I was jealous my sister, who was born in July, could have pool parties and pinatas outside. Turns out, years later I learned, she was jealous I had parties inside at Burger King and Chuck E. Cheese.
So, surprise! Mom finds herself unexpectedly pregnant in the spring of 1972. Based on some reason I don’t know why, my parents were positive I was going to be a boy. Ultrasounds didn’t exist back then. So solid in that belief that they didn’t have a girl name picked out ahead of time, just in case. I was supposed to be Matthew.
Having been born with a full arsenal of female anatomy, my parents were stumped. I went three days without a name.
Baby Girl Wozniak.
My mom told me she and my dad finally agreed on a name, she was about to be discharged from the hospital (moms got four days for natural childbirth back then), after getting as far as Alice in the baby book of names. They dug down within that name for mine and bam, I was me. Thanks, folks!
I’m fairly certain my brother and sister are named after people in our family.
Here’s the kicker.
My dad? Was on the phone, at work.
I’ve told this story numerous times, but today it made me laugh at a moment when life was a little sad. I give thanks for the funny things in life.