Mar 20, 2010
Saturday, March 20, 2010
I was a hippie. Complete with hippie van, a 1961 fully curtained Econoline van....mag wheels and all. Living in San Diego, I was also living my dream. We had purchased our own house on a canyon, I had a good job working for the government, a beautiful wife to come home to each night, and I was very happy. I even enjoyed our routine. Every week, Judy and I would go to a different restaurant and every Friday night, we would go to a drive in theater. We would alternate on who would pick the show but one thing always happened. Judy would fall asleep in the middle....no matter how action packed the flick was. I would even often times end up eating her half of our treat....a kitkat bar.
San Diego was a Mecca for two people in love. Anything we could want was in driving distance. The beach, the mountains, amusement parks, beautiful picnic sites, and other great events such as concerts and movie premiers. Life was sporadic.....we could do what we wanted, when we wanted. We could jump in a car and drive ending up where ever we pointed the car. Little did we know how much our lives would change by one single solitary event.....The birth of our first born.....Carrie.
Our last holiday season was spent with our ready made family, three dogs and three cats. We also had numerous birds and a fish tank full of various shapes, sizes, and colors. I celebrated Christmas and New Years with our three dogs, a coca poo, terrier, and cocker spaniel and my beautiful wife who absolutely glowed in her pregnant state. It brought an extra sparkle to her eyes and gleam to her smile.
We had chose a prepaid plan at the University hospital. Opting for a special mid-wife type delivery and planned a natural childbirth that would give our child the best chance. We took all of the Le Maze classes always treating ourselves to one of those Kitkat bars afterwards. So, that spring, we were ready and fully prepared for the blessed event.
The pains started to come some time Saturday night. The labor pains were quite lengthy between, however and I think that first night, she even let me sleep while she worked her way through the first sets. I had taken a small white piece of cardboard, the type that you would find on the back of a pad of some sort and began to write down the times of her contractions. We thought of going in on that Sunday but the times were still very much apart and we ended up working through another night, this time with me keeping tabs on the time once more and doing my job as coach when I was allowed.
Finally, Monday morning, the times were growing closer and more intense and we headed out with our fully prepared bag to the hospital. I walked Judy into the emergency room with the bag on my shoulder and heavily written pad in my back pocket. As she sat down in the wheel chair, she began another contraction and I began my coaching stroking her head and talking to her softly. A powerful voice broke the moment....."Hey Buddy, get out of my way!". I looked up to see some large bruiser on crutches. "Just a moment, please", I explained, "My wife is having a contraction". "I said get out of my way!" I now looked at him a bit more stern. "Can't you see what is happening here. Just a second.". I went back to my soft coaching till I heard him bellow....."I said NOW!". I had enough and totally out of my element, I did the natural thing for any man who is charged with the protection of his wife and not yet born child. I reached back to punch this monster right in the nose. Before I can swing, one nurse steps in between us while another who had come to help us up to the birthing area grabbed my arm. "Slow down there, Tiger.", someone laughed. "Your wife is going to need you alive to help her pretty soon.". They quickly wheeled her to the elevator while the big mouthed bully pushed his way out the emergency room door.
Before the elevator had reached the floor, Judy was into another contraction. I whipped out my card, checked my watch, and wrote the time down on my now heavily crowded paper. The nurse laughed, "Is this your first child?". "Why yes", I explained between coaching, "How can you tell?". She laughed once more and pointed to my paper. Not sure what she was meaning, I shrugged my shoulder and placed the paper back in my pocket.
We wheeled her into the preparation room and the nurses set out checking her for dilation and preparing her for the coming event. In our bag, we had everything that we would need for the coming of our first born, who we were going to name Mark Nathaniel. You see, since Judy had been sick for so many months of the pregnancy, one of the mid wives declared that met most assuredly a boy. She said, don't even bother buying any other type of clothes. I had even purchased my young lad a small San Diego Charger uniform complete with helmet.
One of the nurses brought me my uniform. Back then, very sterile operating rooms were used and you must be scrubbed and fully gowned to be in the room. I put on the outfit and walked out of the bathroom tying up the ties in the front. Once more, a couple of the nurses got a good laugh at my outfit and one of them helped me take off the top, turn it around, and tie it up in the back.
As the time grew closer, so did the pain. Not only Judy's but mine. I was so incredibly nervous that I had to go but could not bending me over with cramps of my own. No one seem to worry about me, however, and I was even asked to remain to the side as they took my place by her side during the contractions. Judy's sweet nature seemed to change as the event grew closer. I remember her looking at me with tired and yet strong determined eyes and saying, "Get me something for the pain!". I knew better than to argue with her and soon, the nurse had set her up with an epidural.
Finally, the time arrived. With my bag on my shoulder and my camera in my hand, I walked alongside her gurney as she was wheeled into the room. I remember the surealness (sp) of the moment. A sort of dream like state....like time going very slow. Between pushes, I was able to wipe her brow and hold her hand but during the actual birthing pushes, I was once again replaced by women who knew what to do and I was relegated to photographer.
I remember thinking in between snaps, all of the blood and worrying that something might be wrong. The head crowned and the body slipped out behind it. But our baby was covered in blood and purple! "She is beautiful!", one of the nurses explained. "Congratulations, you have a beautiful baby girl, what are you going to call her.". I looked dumbfounded at my bride who had just worked so hard to accomplish her life's greatest moment to the present. My shock was cut by her voice, "Carrie Anne", she said. We looked at each other and the tears flowed freely down both our faces. We had a baby girl!
My first job after leaving the hospital was to trade in the Charger uniform for a pretty dress. My van broke down and was in the shop to be repaired when I was called and informed that Judy was ready to come home. I called a car rental company and while I waited, the repair shop called me. When they heard of my event, the owner of the shop told me that he would button up my van and have it ready in an hour. It was too late to hold off the rental car. A few minutes later, it pulled up in front of the house. I went out and talked to the driver expecting to pay him and walk to the repair shop. "Get in", the man said. "No charge, buddy, and we will take you to the shop.". I could not get over my fortune but was soon to see yet another kindness as I arrived at the repair place. The owner came out and shook my hand. "Congratulations, the bill is on me.". I wheeled the van out of the shop and to the hospital to bring my new family home.
From that moment on, our lives were never the same. The restaurant visits stopped and take out was the moment. No more jump in the car trips and late night drive in movies. We were now a family and our priorities were totally and happily changed.
That was few years back. As any Father Daughter relationship, there have been many highs and lows on our roller coaster ride called life. From the little girl who curled up in my lap and listened intently while I read her books to the bold and angry teen who placed her feet on my dash while I drove her to school after taking her keys away from her letting me know without a doubt, "I hate you!". From the fear of losing her when she contracted Pneumonia to the elation of her receiving the Louis Armstrong award for her trumpet play. The times on my knees outside her room in the middle of the night as I prayed fervently for the young lady on the other side. The bright smile and laugh as the youth group came to our house.
I remember as if it were yesterday, the day that she left to become a flight attendant in Dallas, Texas. We had to leave her in a motel room the night before her flight out. I had to be back home to work the next morning. Judy and I drove in silence that night between sobs as the tears did not subside the entire way home. I recall the emptiness and fear of that following day until we knew she was there and secure.
I also remember the phone calls from the various flights that she took. One time, she was staying in what was considered a haunted hotel. I calmed down a scared daughter and prayed with her over the phone.
She talked Judy and I into bringing her car to her and we drove across country and arrived three days later in Dallas. We went to her apartment and I as the two girls laughed, I walked through the apartment. On the wall in her bedroom was a collage of black and white photos. A closer look found one small color print in the very middle. A picture of me holding her when she was just six months old. Tears flowed down my face as I realized......she loved me.....she really loved me!
Our relationship to this day has its ups and its downs. As with any two people, we don't always see eye to eye on some things. But, there is one thing that she knows beyond a shadow of a doubt. There is a piece of my heart that is always and will always be hers. I can just see it....in creative script letters tagged.......Carrie .
I love you, sweetheart! Always and forever. Happy Birthday!