Back to the Beginning
I just returned from my 54th-year pediatric follow-up appointment.
I had recently learned from a niece that the doctor who delivered me was still practicing. He had just treated her kids. At eighty-something, he still ran the busiest pediatric office in the area.
His receptionist was at first confused, but eagerly conspired with me once I explained that I wanted to give him a copy of my coming of age book as a thank you for making so many things possible.
Dad and I arrived at the converted brick house just as Dr. Foster was finishing his last appointments. The receptionist had us wait in his office to make the surprise complete.
The office was what you would expect. The 1950s house had high windows covered with early Sixties draperies. The walls were decorated in matchstick bamboo. The desk was clean; only his many awards and sentimental photos on the shelves supplied any clutter.
The doc ambled in, quizzical about what we were there for. He was tall and thin, with a shock of thick white hair. A spinal deformation gave him a hard starboard list. Yet his eyes sparkled.
“Doctor, I’m here for my 54th-year pediatric follow-up appointment.” He raised an eyebrow before taking a seat at the desk.
“I don’t understand.”
I smiled and presented him with the book. A grin washed over his face as he read, “To Dr. Harry Foster, Jr., from the first baby you ever delivered as an intern — for making so many things possible, and for taking care of three generations of our family’s children.”
Dad unraveled the umbilical cord of my birth story. Mother had been dissatisfied with the impersonal approach of the Atlanta hospitals where my older brother and sister were born. She wanted to use a country doctor, and was all set to have Dr. Hunt in Conyers do the honors at little Rockdale County Hospital. It was a 25-mile trip over mostly dirt roads from their Riverdale home.
Her water broke on a bitter February night in 1961. Dad drove the dirt roads in his nearly new ’54 Ford, stopping frequently for her to pee along the frozen roadside.