Bare Bones Meditation: Waking Up from the Story of My Life

Joan Tollifson

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I was born in Chicago in 1948. I was born without a right hand. It had been amputated in the uterus by a strand of ruptured amnion. Newborn, I was brought to a room where there was a large pillow. My father was called out of the waiting area and taken to this room by the doctor. My father was left alone in there with me and the large pillow. He understood finally that he was being given the chance to smother me. But he didn’t do it.

The doctor knocked. “Are you finished yet?”

My father didn’t answer. The doctor came in and my father was still standing there.

Together they brought me to my mother. I don’t know what she felt. She has told me that this was the only time she ever saw my father cry. He wept. And then he went out and got drunk. It was probably the only time he ever got dead drunk.

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