Jerimiah was born on August 5th, 1981 at Mt. Carmel Hospital, a regional hospital in a small town in Southeast Kansas. The building itself was new, having been relocated in the late 1970s to a prime, 70-acre, $6 million lot in hopes of blossoming in a new era of hope, while shedding its reputation as a place of despair. It wasn’t the first renaissance the nearly-century-old hospital would see, and it was not the last. As it sits today it is the nearest level III trauma center option for people in a region of The Great Plains that sometimes has limited options.
Mt. Carmel Hospital was originally founded in 1903 by the Sisters of St. Joeseph of Wichita, Kansas. The same Wichita where Jerimiah would, 12 years after his birth at Mt. Carmel, attend middle school, the same Wichita that raised his mother. Mt. Carmel Hospital, though still standing as the good Sisters intended, has been through many transformations over the years and is now known as Ascension Via Christi Hospital. Quite the name. Quite the journey. A lot like Jerimiah.
Jerimiah’s parents chose his name based on initials. His uncle was John Robert (J.R.) Goodnight, and they wanted Jerimiah’s to be the same. So on August 5th, 1981 his mother scribbled the name onto his birth certificate paperwork, presumably on the labor and delivery floor of Mt. Carmel, either intentionally spelling her son’s name in contradiction to the Bible spelling of the same name because of her prophetic sense of who this child was, and who he would one day be. Or perhaps it was the slow IV drip she’d babied since the early morning hours. Or, you know, a typo. It was 1981, who can be sure.
What we can be sure of is that shortly after shedding his white blanket, with the pink and blue stripe every good, gendered, baby received from The Sisters of Mt. Carmel, the Jerimiah spelled with an “I” began his ascent to the loving, trusting, honest, hard-working, stubborn, educated, peaceful, kind man that he is today. That, and he stopped pooping in a diaper.
Jerimiah with an “I” has seen his fair share of ups and downs in his life. Like that time his older brother hoisted him into a tree by his overalls and let him hang around until someone else came by and took him down. Or that bright morning in high school when he decided to climb under his truck (while it was parked on a hill) to see what was going on, and he accidentally moved the gear into neutral and lay helpless as his truck ran over him. He was shaken by the truck, but had no broken bones. The torture of hanging outside in his overalls, well that had some further, lasting reach.
One can surmise a highlight of Jerimiah’s ascent to the man he is today, was set off by the love, kindness, tenacity, and beauty of his wife. Yes, that’s a fair assumption. Or perhaps it was the birth of his own J.R. Goodnight, in 2008. Either way, what Mt. Carmel, his mother, his brother, and his truck didn’t do to help, we certainly have. Gotta take credit where credit is due.
Which brings us to today (having skipped large swathes of time for reader enjoyment) Jerimiah with an “I”’s 39th rotation around the sun. Although I’ve only been part of 19 of those rotations, I am happy to have been part of the upward spiral, and incredibly excited about watching the next 39 work the same sort of magic, from the magic that lives, breathes, encapsulates the heart and soul of this amazing human being. Trust me, there’s more to come from Jerimiah with an “I”.
If you can squeeze in a happy birthday to this man today, I implore you to do so. And if not, that’s okay. He won’t think twice about it, and won’t have a mean thing to say. Unless you send him overalls.
Happy Birthday Jerimiah with an “I” from Mt. Carmel Hospital. May today, tomorrow, and all the tomorrows after that continue your rise to the person your Momma expected you to be.
I love you the most.