Telling family stories is a fun pastime for most people. I have recently used this blog to show how it can be done. We can tell stories through family heirlooms, by visiting an old hometown, or even where past ancestors have lived. When we research our ancestors, we must keep in mind that they did not live in a vacuum. They were part of the community and had dealings with many people. They may have known or been friends with community leaders and famous people of their times. This type of interaction could make for a great family story.
I was reminded of a family story that my wife is fond of telling each year around my daughter’s birthday. The reminder, unfortunately, came with the news of the death of a good man. Dr. Richard Aubry age 81 died in an automobile accident last week. Dr. Aubry was among other things a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Upstate Medical Center in Syracuse, N.Y.. Dr. Aubry also wore another hat. He was a founder of the Regional Perinatal Center and attended over 8000 births. She was sent there for a fairly new procedure at the time called an Amniocentesis. This procedure is a medical procedure in which a small amount of amniotic fluid is removed from the sac that surrounds the fetus. This is done with a needle that is inserted through the abdomen into the uterus. Our doctor at the time wanted this test done because our second son was born with Spina Bifida, and my wife’s oldest brother was born with Down Syndrome.
However, if this wasn’t stressful enough our doctor informed my wife that if the test came back positive for any of these conditions, an abortion must be done. This was a concern for us as an abortion was out of the question. When my wife tried to explain this to the doctor, he flatly told her not to come back if the test were positive and she was not going to have an abortion. We had many a conversation while waiting for the test date. To say we were concerned would be an understatement. Back in the 1970s services for people and families with disabilities were not readily available, (I still do not think they are even today) and we did not live near any family that could help.
Finally, the time for the test came and then the wait for the results. When it came time to go for the results, my wife went alone. I do not know why I did not go. I should have. Perhaps I had to work or had to stay home with our two sons. Once there she was ushered into a room and given the results of her Amniocentesis test. Everything came back normal. All the signs were for a normal pregnancy and healthy baby. Dr Aubry told my wife that she was now to go back to her doctor for the duration of the pregnancy. At this time, my wife spoke up that she wanted to be looked after by him at the Perinatal Center. He started to explain that they were there for high-risk pregnancies and that she could not be followed by them. According to my wife, that was when she lost it. Through tears, she told him about the abortion ultimatum and that she could not see returning to them for medical care. But what could Dr. Aubry do? He was bound by ethics and procedures. The clinic was not for normal pregnancies and was run by rules and regulations. Dr. Aubry placed his hand on my wife’s shoulders and said “of course you can be seen here.”
My daughter was born during a snow storm in early December. Ten fingers and ten toes. Each and every of my daughter’s birthdays my wife tells of the kindness of Dr. Aubry. My daughter is just one of the 8000 births he attended. I can only guess at what the other 7999 stories are.
What are your family stories? Write them down so in the passage of time they don’t get lost. It is the human interest stories the generations to come will want to know. Isn’t that what we really want to know about our ancestors?