February 13th it was snowing. It was 1946 and the snow was piling up.
"It's time!" my mother shouted.
"No need to get so loud," said my dad's mum. "Alf, go get the car warmed up."
My granddad knew better than stall both because of my mother's pained expression and my grandmother's command.
"I wish Al were here," my mother lamented. Having to deal with my decision to be born and my grandmother was more than mom wanted.
"In't no use wishin' for what can't be," said dad's mum. "He's in Singapore. You know it so get control of yourself."
Dad swears he knew when I was coming into the world from the very first pain my mother experienced. He laid up in his hammock with sympathy pains during the entire ordeal or so his story goes.
"Get word to Al, please," my mother called out after a severe pain.
"Don't you be worrying about Alf. You concentrate on birthin' that boy," said dad's mum.
Granddad came in grabbing mom's coat on the way to the bedroom.
"Here. Put this on. It's snowin' heavy. We have to go if we're going to go."
He winced at her pain.
Dad doubled over with the pain. His hammock trembled at his tightening up. His mate looked at him with a cocked eyebrow.
"You better go see the doc," he said.
"No, it's Helen. She's having our son."
"You can't possibly know that," said his mate with a smile on his face.
"Oh but I do," he said holding his abdomen.
"You're barmy." And with that he left to let the other shipmates know.
"I don't know if this old thing will make it," said granddad. "I'm going to call Tom."
They helped mom back inside while granddad nipped up the road to the call box.
The snow whistled around him as he trudged back to the house.
"Tom's on his way," he said closing the door and stamping his feet.
"Come in by the fire," said dad's mum. "You'll catch your death."
Mom was lying down her face contorting in another contraction.
"Oh, she'll be fine," said dad's mum. "They're too far apart to become concerned."
Mom let out a groan.
"Is there something I can do?' asked granddad. "A glass of water? Some sherry?"
Mom smiled at him.
"Sherry might help," she said.
"That's right, booze it up," said dad's mum.
"A little won't hurt. It might even ease the pain a bit," said granddad.
"Piffle," said dad's mum.
Mom took the glass offered by granddad. She sipped it and smiled again at granddad. His smile was as warm as the sherry.
"Where's Tom? He should have been here by now," said grandmother pulling the curtain aside to look out the window. large fat flakes flew by in a torrent.
"How's it look?" asked granddad.
"Like we won't make it if Tom don't hurry," she said letting the curtain fall back into place.
She turned as mom groaned again. Her face became stern. She opened her mouth to say something when they heard the beep of a car horn.
"That must be Tom," said granddad. He rushed to open the door. As he did Tom came up the step and into the doorway.
"How's she doing?" he asked.
"Groaning and crying," said dad's mum. "Come on let's get her into the car."
Granddad draped her coat over her. She pulled it tight as they helped her through the snow and into the car.
"Be careful, Tom. We want to get there," said grandmother.
"Don't worry, mum. We'll be fine. Just watch Helen." He put the car in gear and plowed through the snow that had settled in front of him.
It was a a good ways to Gillingham and the nursing home. When they arrived it was still snowing.
Tom stopped the car. Mom pulled the heavy coat tight around herself. She stepped from the car into a barrage of fat wet snowflakes. Granddad held onto her. They walked together through the doors into the care of a waiting sister.
"Wha' 'ave we 'ere?" says she.
"A pregnant woman in labor," said my granddad a little louder than he meant.
"Now, now. No need to get upset. Pregnant women 'ave been coming in 'ere for as long as I can remember," she said smiling at mom. "Come on, Dearie. let's find you a nice warm bed and a cuppa tea. That'll fix you up."
It was sometime in the evening hours of February 14th, 1946, aboard ship outside of Singapore my dad began to grimace in bouts of pain.
"Look boys. Alf's pains are getting closer together. What's it going to be Alf? A boy or a girl?" his mate said with a laugh. The others near his hammock joined in the laughter.
"You laugh," said dad. "But I know my wife is in labour."
The laughter continued while a grimace grew on his face. He let out a loud groan. Perspiration beaded across his face and he collapsed.
His mates gathered around him. His face was white. A smile gradually spread across his lips.
"It's a boy!"
"Can I hold him?" asked my mother.
"Let us get him cleaned up and then we'll bring him right back." The sister took me away.
Mom lay back on the bed. Granddad dabbed at her face with a moist flannel.
"A boy. What's 'is name going to be?" asked the sister.
"Alfred Frederick Croucher, after his father," said my mother.
"That will be the third," said granddad smiling.
"How do we get in touch with Al," asked mom. "He needs to know."
"I've contacted the Red Cross," said Tom. "They said they will get the message to him as quickly as they can."
In Singapore a few hours later.
"A message for Alf," said one of his mates.
"Read it," said my dad.
"You are the father of a son born this day February 14. Congratulations."
"Well I'm buggud..." His mates looked at him in disbelief.
"What did I tell you? A son."