Thursday, August 11, 2011

Errands: Pick up the Baby at Buckner

Yesterday, we celebrated my firstborn's 24th birthday.  My 6'1" precious baby boy.  This morning he and I chatted about the week he was born.  I pulled out my 1987 calendar and told him how it all went down.
The actual calendar page.  I added "Jonathan was born" later that week.
We lived in Mesquite, TX, at the time. That summer the days were drawn out with oppressive, withering heat.  And, nervous anticipation.  I woke up each morning wondering if it would be the day that we would get the call.  I hesitated to leave my house for more than about an hour.  If I wasn't there when the phone call came, I worried that they would move on down to the next couple on the list.

I spent the night on that Monday night in Fort Worth with my sister, Kathy, and her husband, Lee.  Alan was out of town on business, and I couldn't stand sleeping alone in our little starter home.  That is neither here nor there.  It's just a wee inconsequential part of the tale.

I'll skip to Wednesday, the 12th.  I had a cut and color appointment with Xavier at 9AM.  On my way home at about 11:00, I popped into Albertson's to pick up some groceries.  When I walked in the store, I was overcome with a tingly, Christmas morning feeling.  I felt like something big was about to happen.  The feeling was powerful...almost electric.  

I wandered up and down the aisles throwing this and that in my cart.  I felt distracted.  I felt antsy.  About 4 aisles into my list, I looked down at the items in my cart.  Confusion swirled in my head.  I saw dog food (we had a cat).  I saw things like canned lima beans and canned carrots.  Cheap toilet paper.  This was not my cart.  None of the items on my list were in that cart.

I looked up and down the grocery aisle half expecting to see Rod Serling narrating my dilema.  "Carolyn Lackey.  A teacher in a gifted and talented program enjoying her last few days of summer.  This day began like any ordinary day.  She showered and dressed, ate Frosted Flakes for breakfast, and then, ventured out to the grocery store.  Little did she know that instead of going through the automatic doors into her local Albertson's, she, instead, has entered...THE TWILIGHT ZONE."
 The grocery aisle was desserted.  I stood peering into the foreign basket of food.  Then, I did the only thing I could figure out to do.  I left the cart where it was, went to the front of the store for a new cart, and began shopping all over again.  This time I made a special effort to concentrate and be "in the moment" on the canned vegetable aisle.

I ended up passing the mystery shopping cart as I made my way up and down each aisle.  No one had claimed it.  No one had moved it.  There it sat like an old wooden buckboard in the middle of a western ghost town.  DO-dee-do-do-DO-de-do-do.

I still felt discombobulated when I drove home with my groceries in my steamy Nissan Sentra.  I pushed aside the "Christmas morning feeling" and unloaded the groceries.  I had work to do for a meeting that afternoon.  In a hurry, I spread some peanut butter and jelly on a couple of pieces of bread and sat down to scarf them down while I looked over my notes.  I took one bite out of that sandwich.  The phone rang.

"Hewwo?" I answered with peanut butter hanging in the back of my throat.
The actual peanut butter sandwich.
"Carolyn?  How are you?!  This is Billie Shotts!" 

My heart stopped and I drew in my breath.  Was this THE CALL?

"How have you and Alan been doing?  Did you have a good time on your vacation?" she continued just as normal as pie.

"Uhhh, yes.  We had a great time," I said without embellishing on our trip to Estes Park, Colorado.  I wanted Billie to quickly get to the business at hand if there was actually any business at hand.

After a couple of brief pleasantries she exclaimed, "Congratulations!  You and Alan are the parents of a healthy baby boy!!"

"What!?  What!?  A boy!?  When!?  Where!?  How!?" I stuttered.

"He was born on Monday!  He's healthy!  And, he's beautiful!" she said excitedly.  As she continued to fill me in on all the little details, I scrambled for a pen and a notepad.  Glancing at the peanut butter sandwich, I knew that it would never be eaten that day.  Oh, no.  We had so much to do!  We were parents!
The actual notepad scribbles.
Jonathan and I read over my calendar page from the week he was born.  He knew about the peanut butter sandwich.  He had forgotten about the mystery basket of groceries.  I retold the story of how I called Alan and work and shouted the news of great joy!  "You're a DADDY!!!"  Then, I called my mom who was visiting her friend, Betty Duckworth, in Carthage.  "Get in the car! I told Billie that I couldn't come to meet my baby without my mother!"  I called Alan's mom in Salado and told her to throw some clothes in a bag.  Hurry!  Hurry!  Our baby had been born!

Just telling about the day 24 years ago when I raced to a local party store for "It's a Boy" signs and balloons made me get that old familiar Christmas morning feeling.  I felt that same lump rising in my throat.  I told Jonathan that I could almost feel his little baby boy body curled up in my arms and smell the sweet baby smell of his hair.  I was totally in that moment again.

"That's funny," he said in his deep, chocolatey voice, "Look what you wrote! 'Pick up baby at Buckner.'" (See very bottom of calendar page above.)

I glanced at August 12, 1987.  Sure enough, there it was.  It could have been on a list of errands.
  • drop off clothes at the cleaners
  • pick up RX at Albertson's
  • get milk and deodorant
  • pick up baby at Buckner
He and I shared a laugh.  "Yep.  That was one amazing errand!" I told him.  One amazing, life-changing, Mommy-making errand.  Welcome Jonathan Alan Lackey.
The actual new parents and tiny baby son.


Ashleigh Burroughs said...

They'll always be that little bundle of sweet-smelling love in your arms, even when, as yours and mine are, they are 6' tall and 20-something.

Thanks for this beautiful story; it was a great errand.

Carolyn Lackey said...

Thanks so much, Ashleigh!!


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