The Robert Story

Twenty years and a few hours either way ago, I was as close to death as I’ve ever been. You see, I’d been in labor for three days, the baby was crowned, but there seemed to be no power on Earth that would make him actually come out.

This was a special baby – special for us, of course, as his parents. Special like every baby is to his parents, but more so because we’d waited six years for him and had thought we were never going to have any children.

And then I found myself pregnant. It’s funny because we never got told what gender he was. We had no particular objection to knowing, but at that time ultrasounds were not ALL THAT clear, and I didn’t want to be set on one gender, then have the other.

At any rate, it was all very much besides the point because I knew the minute I got pregnant and knew it was a boy. I also knew what I wanted to call him – had known for the last five years or so. The boy was Robert Anson Hoyt, after Robert Heinlein.

To make the story of that very long night short, we ended up in emergency caesarean, with three doctors in attendance, because he was crowned and it was all very difficult. And he was born.

Immediately after he was born, I passed out or fell asleep. I’m not sure which. I didn’t wake up for 18 hours, so I woke up to a very hungry little boy.

It was only when I was nursing him that my husband pointed out – not that he remembered, in the fog of battle, my brother had to remind him – that Robert Anson Hoyt had been born on Robert Anson Heinlein’s birthdate.

Robert turns twenty today and for the first time we’ve been unable to arrange to be with him on his birthday. He’s down in North Carolina working in a lab for the summer before returning to resume college this fall.

It seems like just yesterday he fit in my arms, but now he towers over me and is a full grown man. And yet the Robert story is only starting.

“Unka Tom? Tell me the Poddy Story–”

“At your age?”

“Please? I crawled up on his knees. “I want to sit in your lap and hear it once more. I need to.”

“All right,” he said, and put his arm around me. “Once upon a time, long, long ago, when the world was young, in a specially favored city there lived a little girl named Poddy. All day long she was busy like a ticking clock. Tick, tick, tick went her heels. Tick, tick, tick went her knitting needles, and, most especially, tick tick tick went her busy little mind. Her hair was the color of butter blossoms in the spring, when the ice leaves canals. Her eyes were the changing blue of sunshine playing down through spring floods, her nose had not yet made up its mind what it would be, and her mouth was shaped like a question mark. She greeted the world as an unopened present and there was no badness in her anywhere.”

“One day Poddy–”

I stopped him. “But I’m not young any longer… And I don’t think the world was ever young!”

“Here’s my hanky,” he said. “Blow your nose. I never did tell you the end of it, Poddy; you always fell asleep. It ends with a miracle.”

“A truly miracle?”

“Yes. This is the end. Poddy grew up and had another Poddy. And then the world was young again.”

“Is that all?”

“That’s all there ever is. But it’s enough.”

Robert A. Heinlein Podkayne of Mars.

15 thoughts on “The Robert Story

  1. Congratulations, for not giving in to life’s alternative, and for your son, and to the young man himself. Best Wishes.

  2. At his christening in Portugal, wasn’t he dedicated to “Saint Robert Anson?” I’m not complaining.

    1. Following the Portuguese tradition of PRETENDING you were named after a saint, yes. Or at least the village tradition. When the priest said “May St. Robert Anson, after whom you were named watch over you” my brother had to leave the church running, and his guffaws from outside could be heard CLEARLY all through church. I don’t know what the canonical effects of this are, but I know I amused Ginny greatly, when I told her.

  3. It was only upon being a parent that I understood how G-d can be outside of Time, looking at each of us as I view my daughter: a continuum, an ongoing process, simultaneously a wee babe in my arms and a fully grown adult and all stages in between. May you and Robert enjoy similar perspectives in Life.

  4. Congratulations. Both your family and the world was enriched, that day. As it is with every newly hatched soul.

  5. Congratulations, to parents and son alike. And that story of “Saint Robert Anson” gave me an instant visual of the man elbowing Michael Valentine aside and spitting on his hands …

    1. Shhh. Why would you inflict that on the poor man in the afterlife? Hasn’t he suffered enough? 😛 To get our beloved field out of this furrow it’s going to take more than a team of mules.

    2. Stasheff already gave us Patron Saint of Science Fiction – Saint Vidicon of Cathode. 🙂

      1. I have been known to mutter “Saint Leibowitz Ora Pro Nobis” but only because I figure in the multiuniverse, he was canonized SOMEWHERE, so, duh. And there’s a saint who would get ME. (Grin.)

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