She was knitting baby clothes when the pains began. The painter was in the nursery, applying the final coat of paint. Her husband told her she was wrong, it was too early, but she insisted. Speeding down the highway, a cop pulled them over. One look at her prompted him to give them a police escort to the hospital in Brooklyn. A wheelchair was waiting for her when they pulled up to the Emergency Room entrance. It was 12:00 noon. Her doctor had been called but he was not at the hospital yet; he had car trouble. As a result, her baby was not born until 1:20 p.m.
As was the practice in those days, she had been anesthetized for the delivery. When she regained consciousness, her first question was not “How is my baby?” or “Did I have a boy or girl?”
She asked “Did the Yankees win?” A prophetic question on the birth day of Mitchell Laurence Hallow.
He became a huge Yankees fan. Named for a family member who had died in the war, he grew up in Brooklyn and on Long Island. Dark curly hair like his grandfather and mother, beautiful whiskey brown eyes and long, curly eyelashes, he had his paternal grandmother’s perfect nose and her husky build. Sweet-natured, witty, intelligent and a naturally athletic, he invariably stood for the hurt, weak, helpless and lost.
Self-effacing, graceful, and strong, he was the Scholar-Athlete and Good Sportsman in school. More Jewish in his ethnicity than his religious beliefs, he spent two years on a kibbutz in Israel and returned with a deep love of Judaism. He volunteered for VISTA, the domestic equivalent of the Peace Corps, in the year after college, to teach prison inmates how to read. A candidate for Law Review, he declined in order to focus on his studies and his part-time job. He continued his work at a small general practice in Mechanicville after graduation. He was a stalwart champion of the kids for whom he became law guardian and an understanding advocate for all who came to his office.
A good friend, great husband and unparalleled father, he was loved by all who knew him. Especially his children and me.
He would have been 60 years old today. When I called his mom this morning to wish her “Happy Birthday” on the birthday of her son, she reminisced about his early arrival. I then thanked her for the gift of him, the best gift in my life. She sighed softly and said,
“Well, you know, thank you for being such a great wife to him. You were the best gift he ever got.”
I had no words in reply. Just a lump in my throat.