At 9pm, my relief arrived.
(This post is written by my dad and continues yesterday’s story of why he missed my birth.)
I had an hour-long boat ride on a pilot launch to get from the Manhattan Island, which was station in the Gulf of Mexico, to get to Cameron, LA, from which my odyssey back to New Hampshire would begin. The company had arranged for a driver who asked, “New Orleans, or Houston?” I knew that the New Orleans airport pretty much closed down at night, and that Houston was a little closer, so I said, “Let’s try Houston.”
We drove west toward Texas and reached the ferry crossing at Sabine Pass. The ferry Captain had a schedule to keep—never mind that there weren’t any cars aside from ours waiting in either direction. I explained to him that my wife had just had our first kid and that I was trying to reach the airport to fly home. After some conversation about the brotherhood of the sea (or brown water sailors and blue water sailors) he agreed to get under way and take us across to Texas without waiting for the next scheduled crossing, saving a crucial 30 minutes.
We arrived at the airport around 2am and I scanned the departure board. There was a flight leaving in ten minutes for Newark, New Jersey.
Now, this was pre 9-11, so you could run to the gate. This was also before the OJ Simpson trial so you could run through airports like OJ did in the Hertz commercials, and run I did. The gate had already closed its door so I started using my “brotherhood of the sea” speech again but given that this was an airport and not a ferry terminal, it didn’t work.
Finally, I told the woman that my wife just had our first baby and that I had to get on that flight or I would not get to New Hampshire until who knows when. She asked if I had a credit card. “Yes,” I told her.
“Do you need to check any luggage?” she asked.
“No,” I replied.
She let me board and instructed me to just find an empty seat and sit down as quickly as I could so they could get going. This was an L-1011: 10 seats wide with 400 seats in coach. I went all the way down one side and half way back up the other before I located an empty seat.
When I asked why there were so many people on a plane in the middle of the night, I found out it was full of Jehovah Witnesses. They were taking advantage of late night low fare and were all bound for the Kingdom Hall in Brooklyn, NY.
Despite it being well after 2am, I was pumped up on adrenaline so I could not sleep even if I had wanted to (which was a good thing seeing as my cabin mates sang most of the way to Newark).
Next, I had to contend with the morning’s first Peoples Express shuttle to Boston where my father-in-law was waiting for me.
“Landlord’s” dad used to be a mechanic— a very good mechanic in fact—and although he was very good at making things go fast, he had become a wimp behind the wheel over the years. He drove slowly and cautiously and made frequent rest stops so I was hoping he would just let me drive.
He had other plans though and told me I looked exhausted, ie. too exhausted to drive. Nonetheless, he “got it.” For the first (and last) time in years, he drove like the 20-year old motor head he had once been. I am not sure how quickly we got from Logan airport to Wentworth Douglas Hospital, but it was fast— challenging-the-laws-of-physics, go-back-in-time-fast— so we arrived about noon before Kat was yet a day old.
I made one stop before going up to see “Landlord” and our new baby: the florist. I bought a bouquet for my wife and another for my daughter. I had no idea she would one day become a serial dater nor did I have any idea what her life would be like 26 years later, but I wanted to be (and I was) the first man to ever buy her flowers.
–Thanks, Chauffeur 🙂