Happy 31st Birthday Nathaniel Peter Bowen!

Old Wives and New Age-ers tell us that a child chooses his or her own time to come into the world.  Believe what you will, but the existence of our son, Nathaniel, gives credence to the theory.  Ted attributes Nat’s place on the planet to the fact that I walked home from the university during a solar eclipse.  Apparently, being exposed to the solar eclipse makes hens lay extra eggs, and Ted believes that’s the only logical explanation for Nat’s conception. 

I should say at the outset that our third child was one of the best things that ever happened to our family.  It’s just that Nat was a surprise.  We were moving from Saskatoon to Regina.  Ted had a new and demanding job as speechwriter for the premier of the province. Our youngest child was about to start kindergarten.  With both children in school for at least part of the day, the plan was for me to study for my Ph.D. comprehensive exams and then having aced them, knock off my dissertation.  It was a great plan, but it didn’t include a third baby.  That said, Nathaniel has always had his own agenda.

When I missed my first period, I went to the doctor. He told me the stress of my exams had knocked my cycle out of whack and not to worry.  There’s a memorable photo of me when I came home after getting the news. I’m sitting in our big red chair, smoking a cigarette and drinking a large glass of scotch. (I know! I know!).  When I couldn’t zip up my jeans, I went back to the doctor, took the test again and we discovered Nathaniel was on his way.

I wrote my Ph.D. exams at the kitchen table in our new money-pit house on Retallack Street. I was 8 and a half months pregnant and too big to fit behind the desk at the university.  I was a graduate student at U. of Saskatchewan, but U. of Regina obligingly sent a woman named Barbara Schmidt over to sit with me while I wrote.  I wrote my last exam on Halloween. I found out I’d passed all my exams on November 10th and shortly after midnight, my water broke.  Nathaniel was born at 6:36 that evening.  He was two weeks early; he had a huge head and his skin hung on him like the suit of a baggy pants comedian. Along with his brother and sister, he was the most beautiful baby I’d ever seen. 

Ted went out of the delivery room to call our parents to say all was well, and I hemorrhaged. The last thing I remember is looking over at my newborn son lying unattended on a table while everyone gathered around me, and my doctor said “Oh Christ, we’re losing her.”  Many hours later, I awoke in intensive care.  My ob-gyn, a doctor named Peter Woodrow, was sitting beside me.  He’d been there all night.  Like everyone else who came to check on me that day, he was wearing a poppy.

In the blog on my grandfather, Nathaniel Bartholomew, I mentioned that our Nat has been passionate about learning as much as he could about the man after whom he was named, and that Nat’s passion for that particular knowledge has enriched the lives of all his immediate family. 

Nathaniel is a passionate guy, but his family has not always embraced his passions.  When he was 6, he developed a passion for gemstones.  When our family went to the Tyrrell Museum, Ted and I gave our kids some spending money.  Nat went to a store in Drumheller and bought himself a pair of ruby drop earrings.  He wore those earrings everywhere for months.  His brother, Max, was suicidal, fratricidal and sometimes both, but Nat liked his earrings and he wore them until he developed a passion for collecting souvenir spoons.  I should note that Nathaniel is straight – not that it matters.

Over the years there have been many passions. Some, like his passion for old Carpenters’ recordings have fallen by the wayside, but many have stuck and become central to Nat’s life.  He is a drummer and a very good one.  He plays in several bands and sometimes when he and I have had a couple of beers, he’ll tell me stories about life on the road.  He has degrees in English and Political Science and is just completing a Masters in Public Policy.  He supports himself by working for a company called Northern Tree – it’s tough work, but he loves it.  If you check his Facebook page, you can keep track of the number of poplars he’s eliminated or pruned. 

Last year he was the only citizen to notice a line in the provincial budget that eliminated funds for the program to fight Dutch Elm disease.  Nat wrote what he called his ‘elm rant’ – it was passionate and well-argued and he sent it to CBC and our local paper.  He and his boss at Northern Tree both talked to the media about the importance of fighting Dutch elm disease and a good chunk of the money was in fact restored to the program. Ted and I were proud. 

Nat has had a succession of beautiful girlfriends, but we think the current girlfriend, Ellen, may just be The One.  We think they’re both lucky.  Nat’s a good man.  His language is appalling. He’s not afraid to cry when he’s moved.  He’s a great cook.  He’s amazingly good with his dogs.  He’s very kind to his parents.  We love him a lot. 

Happy Birthday, Nathaniel.  Your Dad and I are very glad you decided to rearrange the solar system and come our way.

©2017 Gail Bowen.  All Rights Reserved.