Six and a half years ago, I called my dad at 10pm and told him I thought maybe… maybe I was in labor. I didn’t know. I was living here, in our tiny house in eastern Washington, and he was in southern Arizona. I come from a family of nomads, so AZ is neither where I grew up, or where my family lives now – it was a job for a few years, a place my family pooled before spreading back out. “I’ll look up flights to be there in the morning” he said, and I (the ultimate labor denier) told him to wait, that maybe this wasn’t it. I was 41 weeks pregnant, having contractions I couldn’t talk through every four minutes, but mayyyybe I was going to be pregnant forever, so he should probably wait. Logic doesn’t come into play for my laboring brain, but luckily it did for my dad. He got on a plane at 8 the next morning, just as Ella was being born at the local birth center. We were back at home by noon, and my dad showed up an hour later, sure I would still be in labor. Instead, I was sitting on the couch nursing my tiny daughter, asking someone to bring me waffles.
The fact that my dad was there meant so very much to me. My dad and I do not always have an easy relationship – does anyone have an uncomplicated relationship with their parents? In some ways we are too similar, and in others we just can’t see eye to eye. There has never been a question of love – I adore my dad, and I know he has always loved his kids – but life is life, and sometimes we let it get in our way. We’ve traveled back and forth the last few years, trying to visit when we can, but going long stretches in between visits without much communication. Neither of us are phone people, he doesn’t hang out online, I rarely know what state he is in to send cards or pictures. We are a “no news is good news” kind of family, which is something it’s taken me years to accept isn’t the same thing as avoidance.
So, when the doorbell rang on Monday while I was visiting with my midwife on the couch, I assumed it was another vacuum cleaner salesman. Instead, it was my dad, stepmom Tina, and little sister Tillie. My dad had driven 2,800 miles from a job in West Virginia (stopping in CO to pick up Tina and Tillie) to meet his newest grandchild.
And it means so, so much to me.