On This Day

Sixty-one years ago today a 32-year-old immigrant from Holland gave birth to a baby girl – her 4th child.

Mom & Dad

It was almost a tragic day, for the child was strangled during birth by the umbilical cord. There were several frantic, tense moments before the blue-skinned baby finally took her first breath.

They called her Joanne Ruby.

My thoughts are with that young woman today, as they are every year on this day. Β I’ve long believed that somehow we got it wrong and the mother should be the true celebrant of their child’s birthday. Β Even though she has been gone many years now, my thoughts still turn toΒ her.


Her name was Johanna Henrietta and on this day, 61 years ago, she was in her prime with her life wide open before her.

Just as she was once young, grew old, and passed on, so will it be for her children, their children, and those still to come.

To her on this day I say, congratulations on a life well-lived and thank you for giving me mine.



  1. What a lovely post Joanne! I also agree with you that the mother should be the one celebrated on their chldren’s birthdays. I hope you had a great birthday πŸ™‚


  2. What a beautiful tribute to your mother! What a scary moment that must have been for her. My umbilical cord pressed against my mother during labor and my heartbeat dropped low enough that they went out to tell my dad. They said he turned as white as a ghost. I’m sure those moments after your birth were tense and I’m sure they were overjoyed at your first breath!
    I hope that you had a wonderful birthday!! πŸ™‚


    • I had a wonderful birthday weekend, thank you.

      These stories about our own births -not to mention the births of our children -remind me of how life is both fragile and resilient. All the more reason to embrace it with enthusiasm πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Wow.

    First of all, that is all kinds of touching and thoughtful. Loved reading it.

    Second, what an awesome picture on the front steps. I’m guessing every time you glance at that image you get different memories pouring into your mind. I don’t even know them, and that one simple photo captures so many things about them. I love it. They look so happy with what they’ve accomplished. And they probably should be!


    • Thank you … they were both very special people to our family and they are sadly missed. I’m glad that some of that essence is obvious from the photo to someone who never knew them ❀


  4. Happy Birthday weekend and year!
    May it be joyful and healthy as you hike, bike and live your year fully.
    I am four months ahead of you but will turn a year older in 2017.
    This was such a beautiful way to express appreciation for your life, Joanne. You were named after her! (Mrs. Johanna . . .) How wonderful it is to have this extra tie. ❀
    Your birth story was a scary, nearly life changing event!


    • Thank you πŸ™‚ I plan to squeeze as much out of this life as I can! It is too precious to waste πŸ™‚

      I discovered some time ago that Johanna was my materal great-grandmother’s name. There was a time in my life when I thought naming a baby after a family member was old-fashioned and unnecessarily anachronistic.
      As I got older, I began to appreciate how it creates and re-enforces familial ties.


  5. Happy birthday! All birthdays should be dual celebrations, I agree! It takes a lifetime to understand our parents and acknowledge our indebtedness – in so many ways. Lovely tribute!


    • Thank you , Susanne. In the end, I wonder if we ever really do understand our parents.
      In the years since they’ve both been gone, I feel like I wasted so much of our time together.


      • I know how you feel. So many questions unanswered. I just read a wonderful memoir by Judy Fong-Bates about her parents called “The year of finding memory” in which she goes searching for more information about her parents who immigrated to Canada from China. I highly recommend it.


  6. Hippy bird-day to you Joanne and happy birth day to your mom. You look so like her, with the exception of your mouth, which is your dad’s. You are right of course, we should celebrate our mothers on this day. I too gave birth to a baby who managed to wrap the cord around his neck and came out a funny purple colour. All ended well though, thank goodness. I’d raise a glass of champagne to you, except it is bedtime here πŸ˜‰


  7. Happy giving birth day to Johanna Henriett! And, of course, happy birthday to you! You are right, that is one day that we -have- to think about our mothers and all they have done for us πŸ™‚


    • Thank you Su <3.

      You've probably experienced the same feeling while digging through family history … that these are lives lived in the past, yet we tend to forget they were young, vibrant full of hopes and dreams like us. That was the sentiment I was trying to express.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. What a beautiful post Joanne and happy birthday πŸ˜€ Another year older and another year wizer or in my case just older. I’m living proof that you should never let your mother brush your hair when she’s mad at your father πŸ˜ͺ


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