Yesterday was Certain Man’s birthday.
I pulled out a brown manilla envelope that his sister, Lena, had sent several years ago containing the copied pages of a notebook that we had found when we were cleaning out his parent’s house when they moved to a nursing home. It held vital information about my husband that went unknown for half a century. Literally.
When Ralph Yutzy’s young wife, Katie Kauffman Yutzy, died one May morning in 1958, she left behind five children; Lena (10) Rachel (9) Joseph (7) Daniel (4) and Ruthie (2).She also left behind a grief stricken husband who couldn’t function without her. He knew she had this information written down somewhere, but he didn’t know where. And he didn’t remember a lot of the details. Daniel started school, went through elementary school, went to junior high, and eventually to high school. When he turned 16, he wanted his license, but they could not find a birth certificate for him. The bureau of motor vehicles said that he had to have a birth certificate to get his license. So he and his father went down to the bureau of vital statistics to procure one. There was no record of his birth. At all. So they said that his mother had to sign that he was, in fact, born on August 14, 1953, and that he was her son and that she could
swear solemnly affirm that it was the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. And then he could have a birth certificate.
But his mother wasn’t living. And his father didn’t know where she had written everything down. So they needed to get school records and who knows what else, to verify that he was, in fact, born. And since there was no record of his birth, the magistrate told him that he could name himself whatever he wanted. In keeping with his family tradition, he did not have a middle name, rather used the initial, “R” (in deference to his father’s name “Ralph”) in the place of a middle name. However, there was another Daniel R. Yutzy, the very same age, on the same mail route, and after discussion, Daniel and his father decided to use the initial “J” instead of “R.” I’m not sure of why, but I am very sure there was a reason. To this day, Daniel insists that he told them “just the initial,” but when his birth certificate came, It was all spelled out, Daniel Jay Yutzy. And so that is what it has legally been ever since.
Cleaning out the house, though, in November of 2009, we came across the spiral notebook where Katie had written about each of their five children. Lena, showing much foresight, copied off the pages that pertained to each individual child and sent the copies to each one. Yesterday morning, I pulled the copies out to look over the details concerning Daniel’s birth.
Our Fourth Baby. (She wrote.)
Was born at Marysville Hospital;
By: Dr. Herman E. Karrer.
Named Daniel R. Yutzy, Born; August 14-1953
At 11:50 A.M. weigh 9 lbs. Length 21½ inches
There followed a listing of all the visitors that she had with the new baby, and she made a note that she was sharing a room with “Noah Lovina Beachy”– room 57. (Lovina would eventually become a sister in law to Katie’s husband, Ralph, when twenty-eight months after her death, he married Sue Beachy, a sister of Lovina’s husband, Noah. And this baby, now Wilma Troyer, would become a favorite, “almost a twin” cousin to Daniel.) There were two pages of visitors, including many people from both families. (Ralph’s parents, Emery and Florence Kramer Yutzy and Katie’s parents, Sylvanus and Lizzie Beachy Kauffman.)
And then there was a list of his childhood illnesses:
Daniel started with the whooping cough in May, 1954, at the age of 10 months.
Daniel had the measles on April 2, 1956, at the age of 2 yrs.
Daniel had the mumps, February 24, 1958, on both sides.
Less than three months after her last entry on Daniel’s page, she was gone, her conscientious records lost in the shuffle of the coming years. I look at these careful entries and wonder about the woman who loved my husband first, and the woman that he has always wished to know. He can’t remember what she was like. His memories are few and sketchy, and the ensuing years were difficult and sad. He learned early to just “put his head down and push through” the unpleasant things in his life. After she was gone, he doesn’t remember ever being hugged, ever being told he was loved, ever feeling like he was wanted just for being himself — until we found each other. This husband of mine — whose love language is touch, who has sought relationship with his children over having them agree with his every thought, who loves his siblings and his nephews and nieces and their families with unaffected enthusiasm — this man has made choices that have put him where he is today.
I can’t believe that he is 62. He is strong and resourceful and cheerful and kind. Most of the time, anyhow. He loves children — especially his grandchildren, gardening, nature, our church, and even working! And even though he works too hard, he is always ready to drop things to help a neighbor or someone in distress. I love him intensely, but even more importantly, I have a profound respect for him. His abilities are endless. He can figure things out that make me scratch my head. He isn’t perfect, I know, but he’s one of the most interesting men I have every encountered, and I am never bored.
Happy Birthday, Daniel.
I still choose you.