by Jim Coates
Bellbrook, Ohio, USA
A few years ago, my wife had a very difficult pregnancy with our second child. Our daughter was barely two years old when she went into labor over three months early. The baby was due at the end of February, and she started having labor pains at Thanksgiving.
She went to the hospital and they were able to stop the labor with IV drugs, but every time they would send her home with pills and a monitor the labor would start up again. They finally came to the conclusion that the only way they would be able to keep the contractions stopped was for her to stay in the hospital. This meant that she would be spending Christmas in the maternity ward on an IV.
So that my daughter Sarah would not have to wake up to just me in the house, she and I went over to my parents’ house on Christmas Eve to spend the night. Waking up early on Christmas morning was a tradition for me and my brothers growing up, and my daughter continued the tradition, waking me around 7:00 a.m. to go downstairs and see what Santa had brought.
Dad had always made us wait on Christmas morning while he got up, took a bath, shaved, and generally messed around for what seemed like hours to us kids. He would then make us eat breakfast, sometimes letting us sneak a peek at pile of presents under the tree in the living room, but never letting us go in there until he was good and ready.
I was, of course, expecting the same treatment for Sarah. However, when I got up and went downstairs, Dad wasn’t there. Mom said that he had gotten out of bed much earlier that morning and had gotten dressed and left.
While we waited, we all had breakfast and got dressed. He returned about an hour later, but he wouldn’t say where he had gone. We all opened our gifts, and then put Linda’s presents in the car to take with us as we visited her. When we got to the hospital, we found out where Dad had been that morning. He had gotten up very early, driven over half an hour to the hospital, and had talked the nurses into letting him into my wife’s room before visiting hours began, so she wouldn’t have to wake up alone in the hospital on Christmas morning.
My Dad’s never been the sentimental sort, but that day I realized just how much emotion he had in him and how much I loved him.
Available in The Best of HeroicStories, Volume 2.