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Anna and Fenton Mackay


I weighed a pound and a quarter when I was born. I was kept in a shoebox, wrapped in cotton batting and olive oil, and fed with an eyedropper. That was my incubator. When I turned blue, they put me in the oven, took me back out when the colour came back. And I survived. Doctor said I wouldn’t, but I did.

I was born premature, and there was three of us. My brother lived fer nine days, my sister was born dead, and I survived. My mother walked in there from the barn, come in the house, and she forgot the cellar hatch was open and fell down the cellar. Six and a half months pregnant. She didn’t go to a hospital to have us; my two grandmothers delivered us. My father told me I just laid across his hand, that’s all I was, just the size of a little witsy bitsy doll. When I was a year old I wore a cap that went on a tennis ball. An’ a sock that was three inches long, and it was too long for my leg, the foot was an inch and a half, and that was too big. I’ve got them in there, I’ve still got them.

When I was born, because she fell, I was ruptured on both sides, under me arms was all tore, me tail bone stuck out through me back. I had no ear rims, no hair, no eyebrows, I was too early, eh? She had to lower my ear rims, put a cap on me, and tie it down so me ear rims would grow. That’s how she done it.

I can’t find where my brother’s buried. Down in Lorne Valley in the cemetery, but they don’t know where the plot is. Supposed to be next to my grandparents, but they’re not sure. And my sister, she was buried under an oak tree, home at the farm. She was only eighty percent formed. She’d a’ been the small one at the end of it. And they took her and they just put her into a little rough box, just wrapped her up in a pillowcase and put her under an oak tree.

Back then, the people that went around collecting taxes registered all the children of that time for fifty cents. And that’s what was done. My sister wasn’t registered, and my brother was registered at nine days, but he didn’t have a name. So when they come round to do the census, I was a twin, not a triplet. So, that’s the way that life goes. But you can’t change that.

I always felt that there was a big loss. I’ve always got that feeling I’m alone. It happened so young in life, but there was something missing, eh? You’ll be working away, or just walking or just going to bed, and bingo, there it is in your mind. And you never get over it.

 Fenton MacKay

Prince Edward Island, 2010

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One Response to “Anna and Fenton Mackay”
  1. Kevin MacKay

    Thank you Juliet for giving voice to my Uncle Fenton. He always remembers me and my family here in ontario.

    Kevin MacKay