“Thank God the rain is holding off,” Walker mumbled, keeping his eyes on Highway 31W heading out of Greenbrier to Interstate 24. The truck and its passengers would then head west to Nashville, twenty-five minutes away. The dad-to-be, at least sometime in the next twenty-four hours hopefully, glances in the passenger seat and catches a glimpse of his wife, one hand bracing against the console and the other on the door, raising herself off the seat.
“Feeling okay?” Walker asked, focusing his attention back on the road to ensure he would not miss the onramp. Even though he had driven this very direction every day for years, this was a different situation. As they pass the Hale’s barn, he knew to start slowing down. Too bad it’s not the fall yet, Walker thought, yearning for the smell of tobacco leaves being cured and carried across the countryside.
“Feeling just great!” came the response from the seat as his wife, Leanne, grimaced.
“At least the roads aren’t slick,” Walker said, this time, aloud, as he reached over to the stereo and turned the dial of the radio and the voice of Blake Shelton immediately filled the truck cab.
“I swear if you hit any more bumps in the road, this baby will be on the floorboard. Drive faster!”
“I’m doing the best I can. We will be there in about twenty minutes,” Walker responded just as his phone rang.
“Hey mom,” he answered.
“Walker, we are on the way. Do you need us to bring anything? We will be there as soon as possible. Your dad already got pulled over once and when he explained to the officer why he was speeding, he was told to be more careful.”
“We have everything, but thanks. Our bags were already packed. I’ll call once we get to the hospital and the doctor tells us how long everything will be. Tell dad to be careful.”
“I will. Is Leanne where she can talk?”
Walker glanced over and saw the pain on her face. “No, I don’t really think she can right now. I’ll call in a little while. Love you,” he said as he ended the call.
He heard a grunt and stole another glance. “If you look over here one more time, I’m going to punch you in the face. Just drive.”
“So much for women having a higher pain tolerance,” he mumbled as his hands returned to the ten o’clock and two o’clock position on the steering wheel, just like his dad taught him all those years ago. The lights of downtown Nashville appeared hazy through the windshield as the rain increased to a steady fall. “Twelve more minutes.”
“I’m good now. I think it was only contractions.”
Walker tentatively reached his hand over to the console and grabbed Leanne’s fingers. “I love you, baby. In a few hours, it will no longer be the two of us.”
These words brought a soft smile to Leanne’s face. “I’m ready for that. I can’t believe the time is finally here. Now, if only we can get through this night, we can make it through anything.”
“She’s dilated to a 7,” the nurse informed them a few minutes after checking in the hospital and being rushed to the room. “We need to get the anesthesiologist here in the next few minutes, otherwise, it will be a natural birth.”
Despite the pain, Leanne looked relatively at ease in the bed. Check-in at the hospital took only a few minutes and now here they were. The doctor arrived and said it would probably be another few hours before any excitement occurred, which earned him a rebuke from Leanne.
The next several hours passed with little fanfare. Walker dozed in and out. Leanne tried to follow suit until her water broke and that was it for rest. Finally, at 6:13 a.m., the doctor called in the team - it was time. Nine minutes later, a newborn cry filled the suite.
I was here. I had arrived. You may wonder how I know this but the answer is simple - my mom and dad always talked about this night. My dad also told me that his parents, my PawPaw and MeMaw were standing outside the door, about to open it, when they heard me cry. They waited until the doctor left before coming in to see me. PawPaw did not get pulled over anymore and they made it, the first of what would be monthly trips to see us, but mainly me.
That’s my backstory. Now, let me tell you about the day my life was forever changed, along with my grandparents.
I was twelve years old. And it happened in a day.