Yet Another Boy? Really?

My dad did not like doctors or hospitals. He avoided both at all costs when he could. So it was not surprising that when my mother would go into labor with one of the 12 children she would bear, my father often dropped her at the hospital door and went on back home.

Of course those were the days when prospective fathers were banished to smoke-filled waiting rooms and mothers-to-be were off in la-la land via something called “twilight sleep” during the birthing process. There was none of that new-fangled natural childbirth with dad holding mom’s hand through each contraction.

My two older sisters and I would groan each time that phone would ring to announce to my father that he had, in fact, had another son. Seven boys versus five girls in all.

Would the girls forever more be outnumbered in the household? Even the dogs were mostly males. I’m not sure about the cats and rabbits that inhabited the household at various times, although I do recall one cat giving birth in the bottom of my mother’s armoire. That was a life lesson for all to see and hear.

When the sons outnumber the daughters, there are challenges. Boys and a makeshift construction site in the backyard — where my brothers recreated the building of Interstate 70 and the Wheeling Tunnel — meant a lot of dirt was tracked into the house. The result was an excess of work for the females who were tasked with cleaning and polishing the old homestead. On Saturdays, the house smelled of Lemon Pledge, Spic and Span and window cleaner.

The boys took out the garbage, mowed the lawn and shoveled snow. Big deal. Do you know how many dishes are involved in just one meal in a household of 14 people? Not to mention the cereal bowls for their before-bed snack. The Hamm boys kept General Mills and Kellogg in business.

Those of my brothers who are fathers and grandfathers now have produced their own crop of kids and grandkids. But the tables have turned. Six of the brothers have produced five boys and nine girls among them.

It’s a dead heat among the sisters who have six boys and six girls among their offspring. As for grandchildren and great-grandchildren, the girls again outnumber the boys.

My father would have loved seeing all these youngsters climbing the front porch steps on Halloween or running around the old backyard for one of the many family Fourth of July picnics held there. Unfortunately our dad’s disdain for hospitals and doctors probably shortened his life.

As stubborn as he was, he just might be proud of the legacy his children, grandchildren and great-grandkids will leave. Some have his writing abilities while others have his flair for painting and drawing. And all of them have a bit of his faith and gift of gab.

Make some memories and have a happy Father’s Day.

Heather Ziegler can be reached via email at: hziegler@theintelligencer.net.

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