Write again … The greatest gift

Published 8:04 pm Monday, March 19, 2012

December 7, 1967, is one of the three most significant dates in my journey of seventy-three years.

You see, Sarah Yorke Houston arrived on that date. And no, historic date notwithstanding (isn’t that a presumptuous word? — it almost sounds like an affectation) we didn’t name her Pearl. I stray from my topic.

My mother called me early that morning to tell me that Sally was on her way to the hospital. She had been staying the last several days with her parents, as we had no local hospital at the time on the Outer Banks.

So. I called the school secretary, who was still at home, to alert her that I would need a substitute. Then I went to my classroom and hastily made out lesson plans and other pertinent information for whomever was to sub for me.

Then I was off and away to the Beaufort County Hospital.

When I arrived some two hours later, I found out that my First Wife had drifted off to sleep, thus delaying the process a bit.

And then it was game on. After not so very long (it seemed an eternity to me) a nurse came to us — my mother, my mother-in-law, and me, the father-in-waiting.

We all rejoiced with the news that there was a healthy, beautiful, new baby girl in this world. Of course, I cannot put into words the depth and breadth of my emotions.

Sometime later, while we waited outside Sally’s room for the nurse to tell us we could go in (we’d already ogled our Sarah Yorke in the nursery), Dr. Ray Silverthorne came out of the room.

Well, I wanted, so badly, to tell him how grateful I was, but I truly feared I’d be overcome with emotion.

Before I could say anything, Dr. Silverthorne walked up to me, and said, almost conspiratorially, “I need to tell you something.”

My heart literally lurched, and my breathing seemed to be labored.

Oh, Lord. Dear, Lord. What can it be?

Before I could gather my wits and respond, Dr. Silverthorne said, ever so seriously: “Sally’s asleep, and they just brought in her meal. Don’t let it go to waste. Go on in there and eat it.” And then he moved on, unlit stump of a cigar clenched in the corner of his mouth.

Not only was he a medical doctor, he was also an ordained minister. He is one of God’s good people. For sure.

Now Sarah is 44 years old with three children of her own.

And this old world keeps on turning.

APROPOS — “A child, more than all other gifts earth can offer declining man, brings with it hope, and forward-looking thoughts.”
— T.S. Eliot