It began as any other day when you are driving hundreds of miles away from your daughter, who is about to give birth, toward your oldest son, who is about to get married. Timing is everything.
In a perfect world, my daughter’s June 11 due date would have provided sufficient time for us to enjoy the birth of our first grandchild before leaving the scene to welcome our first daughter-in-law on June 20.
My daughter would have been perfectly content to accommodate us, and her son did his best, starting the process on his due date, with acute labor pains — just not close enough together to meet the midwife’s standards. Laura still hadn’t produced a baby by our scheduled departure for the wedding five days later. (She hadn’t slept in the duration either.) The evening before she had given up her hopes of a birth by midwife and headed to our local hospital.
As you can imagine, I hadn’t slept much before officially awakening at 2 a.m. to finish packing for our planned 3 a.m. departure. I responded to a text from my son-in-law, Jim, who had sent a message at 1:30 a.m. to say Laura had gotten an epidural and was sleeping for the first time in five days.Thank God. My husband and the two sons driving with us had decided that getting up early and driving the projected 11.5 hour distance in a day was preferable to spending the money for a hotel room and extra meals on the road. Check in was at 3 p.m. — meaning that was the earliest we could enter our cabin in the foothills of the Shenandoah Mountains — and I meant to be there at 3 p.m. or, at least, by 5. I should have been happy that we managed to leave at 3:41 a.m., but in my mind we were already 41 minutes off schedule. I took the first driving shift, sticking to the main highways with the idea of avoiding any deer awake and leaping across roads at that hour.
When we stopped for breakfast about 6:30, I got my second text from Jim, letting us know that the doctor was going to perform an emergency C-section. The next few hours were a flurry of text exchanges, as I passed on his texts — a mix of prayer requests for specific complications Laura and baby Niko were facing, and prayerful waiting. Eventually, Niko was born, his mother fine but exhausted, and the open road that lay before us seemed more manageable.
We stopped for a late lunch in Petersburg, Virginia, which was only about two hours from our destination. As we slowed to get off the interstate, we noticed that the van had a pronounced shimmy. We thought maybe it was the slower speeds accentuating a tire that would eventually go bad, and when we returned to the car after lunch, my husband took the wheel. The accelerated speed on I-95 made the shimmy worse, not better, and we made our way to an exit with a tire shop with good reviews. (The subject of two previous blog posts, Will the real mechanic please stand up? and On Craig’s list…) The short story? At 10 p.m. we were still waiting on our vehicle to be fixed. My two oldest sons, Stephen the groom and Ben the best man who had already made it to the mountain site, returned to Richmond to drive the four of us and our stuff to the cabin.
The somewhat longer story is that our boys had been trying to communicate with us since our car troubles began, giving us advice, offering to come get us, etc. We stubbornly thought the vehicle would be fine and kept turning down their offers of help. But despite that, as evening became night, these two sons indicated they were on their way to pick us up. Enough was enough.
Even so, my husband said he would stay with the vehicle and keep one of our boys with him to guide him up the mountain…
The mechanic had indicated he would get us on the road that night — and well he might have — but by 10 p.m. he was still trying to determine the extent of our damages. As it was, riding with my sons we would reach our cabin at midnight, and I knew if my husband and son were left behind, I would never rest, despite being awake 22 hours.
Thankfully, when my sons arrived, they got stubborn. They even scolded. Why hadn’t we asked for help earlier? Then they respectfully said that all of us — and our stuff — were going back to the mountain with them. My husband acquiesced. I breathed a sigh of relief. And so we climbed the lifts in the mechanic’s garage into the airborne van and removed bags one by one to relocate them into the rental vehicle. We wedged our bodies into seats, packing ourselves in among the stuff for one of the most uncomfortable — loving — rides of our lives.
Our boys had saved us.
Ben safely wove his way along the treacherous rainy roads to our mountain cabin. They both helped unload our belongings into our cabin at midnight. My son the groom awakened early the next day and surprised us in our cabin with Egg McMuffins from McDonald’s for all — breakfast was served. Then while Ben drove me and his brothers into town for the winery tour, the day’s wedding event, Stephen stayed with his father, offering to drive him back to Richmond, should the van be ready. In the interim, they went for lunch and visited the nearby national park and simply spent time together when it appeared the van repairs would not be completed that day. When the exhaustion and emotion of the trip caught up with me later that day, Ben let me cry on his shoulder and let me know he and Stephen had everything under control. These wonderful young men, our sons, fed us, made sure we were where we needed to be, offered service and solace and love. It was almost painfully humbling to be in such a position of need.
I say “almost” — because in the midst of our humble reflections as to the love and honor these sons of ours demonstrated during those days, we also felt a bit of pride. Our sons had grown up well.
They must have had some amazing parents… 🙂