Pull, I Mean, Push!

How a tiller can help you deliver.

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ILLUSTRATIONS BY TIM FOLEY


I was 9-1/2 years old in April, 1970 when my family moved from our two-bedroom home on a tiny city lot to a brick foursquare on three acres of land. It was a compromise between my urban-raised Dad and my farm-raised Mom. We were still in the city limits, but all the homes along the road had deep lots. One neighbor even had grandfathered-in horses—manure for the taking!

The long-time owners of the stately home had been avid gardeners, but the family we bought it from had allowed the garden to revert to lawn. So that first Spring, Mom hired a neighbor to till up a big area for our vegetable garden, and she and I planted our dream garden.

My kid sister was born while Dad was still filling out the hospital paperwork.

Dad had no interest in yard work. He did a great job taking care of the house, but the yard was Mom’s
and mine. (We did let Dad pull the weeds in the gravel driveway.)
Mom decided to buy a tiller over that first Winter so that we didn’t have to hire the neighbor to plow up the soil. But by Spring of 1971, when it was time to prep the garden, there had been a change of status at home. Mom was expecting.

Dad was not home on Thursday afternoon, April 29th, and I wanted to get the garden tilled. I tried in vain to pull the cord on the tiller, but my spindly arms and my 90-pound frame did not have the humph to get it going. So I called on Mom. She gave it a few pulls, it started, and I was off tilling.


The next morning while getting ready for work, Mom decided that the back pain she was feeling might be labor pains. So Dad took her to the hospital. At 8:30 a.m., while Dad was still filling out the hospital paperwork, my kid sister was born. She was healthy and fine—just two weeks before the original due date.

Our family lore ever since maintains that my sister’s birthday was determined by me, an eager 9-year-old gardener.

I kept that tiller until just a few years ago and would routinely offer to let expecting friends give it a tug when they were ready to deliver. No one ever took me up on the offer. That’s their mistake because in the Kimpel household, everyone knows that pull leads to push.


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