In 1953 many cities in India did not have a hospital, but there was one in the city of Jhansi, and that is where my missionary parents went when the time came for my birth. It was a hospital in the narrowest definition of the word. The modern treatments, technologies and facilities of the Western world were non-existent here in the East in 1953.
My mother was put in a room, on a hard table, and left there for hours while in labor. As her time came closer she was given an enema, a common practice in childbirth which requires a toilet or bedpan to be nearby. When the nurse left the room she left the bedpan on the floor! In a few minutes the need for the bedpan became urgent and my mother, deep in labor and by herself in the room, worked her way off the table and eased herself to the floor and onto the bedpan. While she was balancing herself on the floor she saw it! A large rat (India size large! 2X Western size) appeared from the corner of the room. She was petrified! The pain that was coming forced her to breathe, but could not distract her from the rat scurrying across the room.
What should she do? Should she try and jump up and get back on the table? Should she kick and scream to try and scare it away? It was impossible for her to move quickly so jumping back up on the table was immediately eliminated as an option. In her present position, kicking was going to be difficult and she doubted anyone would hear her scream since no one had come to her aid when she’d called earlier. Kicking and screaming did not seem a likely solution. Frozen in place, she stared at the rat, his black beady eyes staring back. Maybe if she stayed very still he would go back where he came from, although, at the moment there was no indication that he was at all interested in leaving.
He sat up on his hind legs, arms clawing at the air. His nose went up, twitching in the air, long black whiskers flickering. With a final sniff he dropped to the floor and started running across the room towards her.
Immediately the idea of staying completely still changed to kicking and screaming. Here he came, full bore ahead. She could see the coarse hair covering his body, his black beady eyes staring directly into hers. She choked out a little squeal and managed a couple of feeble wiggles of her feet before he arrived and scurried right over the top of them! She felt the little scratchy nails scampering and pricking across the top of her bare feet. She didn’t pass out. She concentrated on breathing and pain and getting on with the work of bringing this baby into the world, cold and cruel though it seemed at the moment.
The story ends fairly happily with the nurse coming in and helping her back on the table, and then the happy part - I am born. I was scrawny, weighing in at 6lb 4oz with lots of black hair and Mom’s first words were, “Oh doctor, she looks like Rudy will look when he’s 90!” Rudy is my dad and that was not exactly a compliment to him or me.
However, I would be honored to resemble my Dad in any way, even when he is 90. He is quite a handsome fellow although there are a few physical features I might rather wish to inherit from Mom, if you nose what I mean.:^) One of Dad’s great traits I would love to inherit, and hope I have to some extent, is his tremendous love of life and sense of humor which so fills our home with joy and laughter and touches everyone he comes in contact with. I would also be deeply honored to inherit his great strength of character, a true man of honor, a man of his word, trustworthy and steadfast. You are my hero Dad, and I know that no matter how you look when you are 90, Mom is still going to love you like crazy, just like she loved me in those first moments, her awful experience forgotten in her joy.
She is so wonderful and has faced many difficult situations in her life without complaint and always with a smile. I love you, Mom and it will always be my desire to emulate you and develop in myself the loving character you embody. I often think how true it is what your fellow missionary ladies said of you; that it wasn’t fair that they all had to work so hard at having the fruit of the spirit when it just came naturally to Phyllis. “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.” (Galatians 5:22,23)
It is my greatest desire to exhibit a beautiful, loving spirit such as my mother's and have others say of me some day, “She is so much like her mother.” I was indeed a blessed little girl on that November 17, 1953 when I was born into this amazing family. My mother already knew what my name would be because when she was pregnant she had a dream in which she had a baby girl and in her dream she was calling her daughter Ruth Ann, and so that became my name, Ruth Ann Cornelson.