My mother’s worst fear was that I would turn out to be a Gypsy. I’m not sure what she even meant by the term Gypsy, as I am pretty sure she never met a gypsy in her life, but perhaps she meant the kind of woman wearing long flowy skirts and big earrings that I turned into. She must have seen into the future and feared I would be the person I am today, a person she would disapprove of. It stared with pierced ears: “Don’t get your ears pierced. You’ll look like a Gypsy!” Being a gypsy meant doing anything that would embarrass her. That included short skirts, long skirts, eye make-up, and pencilled in beauty marks on my cheek. Don’t Wear bright colors! You’ll look like a gypsy!” These are all the looks I have worn over the years for my favorite Halloween costume: A Gypsy.
Exactly fifty years ago on October 22, I was giving birth to Seth, my oldest child. When his dad and I arrived at the hospital labor and delivery area, I heard blood-curdling shrieks from women in labor. I thought they were embarrassing themselves by making such shrill noises, and I told the nurse that those women must be Gypsies. She looked at me strangely and left. After I had been in labor for 24 hours and was screaming and cursing she came back in the room and curled her lip at me. She was probably thinking I must be a Gypsy.
Seth was a breach baby of just under ten pounds and was hard to deliver, but what a joy when he finally appeared. He has been a constant source of surprise and delight from day one. I have a million Seth stories I could tell, but I’ll just tell a couple. When he was in preschool in Connecticut we went to Vermont for Christmas to visit his grandparents. His grandmother bought him a new snow suit, and expensive staple required when living in New England. When he went back to school after the holidays, his teacher admired his brightly colored snow suit.
“My grandmother made it for me,” he told her.
She was surprised as the suit made of waterproof nylon didn’t look homemade. When the kids returned indoors and stripped off their layers of cold weather gear, the teacher noticed a label in the inside of the jacket. It said Made in Korea. Next time she caught Seth’s eye, she said, “It looks as if your snowsuit was made in Korea.”
Nonplussed, Seth looked her in the eye and answered. “Yes. My grandmother is Korean.”
Later we moved to Charlotte when his dad was hired by Ivey’s Department Store. His kindergarten teacher asked Seth what his father did for a living. Seth said, “He owns Ivey’s.”
The teacher said, “I thought George Ivey owned Ivey’s.”
Seth told her, “He did. My dad owns it now. They are going to change the name to Alec’s Store.”
He has always been quick, bright, and outrageous. I think he might be a Gypsy.
Happy Birthday, Gypsy Boy!