Even before I was born, I put my dad through a lot.
I was born in mid-December, on the exact date and time of my dad’s annual holiday concert. He was a choir teacher at Snowden just trying to get the kids ready before the show when a call came over the intercom saying he had a call from his wife. As he went to take it, all the kids giggled and whispered between themselves because they knew that Mrs. Hamilton was super pregnant and pretty much about to pop. So he answered the phone, and sure enough, she had popped--or, rather, was in the process of popping. He had an audience full of proud parents and a choir room full of kids and a wife giving birth in the hospital all going on at the same time.
Okay, quick pause for a little backstory here. I was an accident. My parents definitely did not mean to have me. In fact, Dad was also an accident, as was his mother and my mother, meaning that I am a third generation oops babe in a terrifyingly fertile family. Not only that, but in the course of one of his many fatherly speeches on the dangers of sex before marriage, he also made it known that “y’all, you really just never know. I mean, look at Julia, she was the product of protected sex.”
Now, normally he’d never let a fact like that slip, but he was just really on a roll that day, and, I mean, it did definitely drive the point home for me. I learned that I am indeed a miracle baby. The most persistent of sperms.
So, with the unforeseen and totally unplanned conception of a fourth child, my parents had to move to a bigger house, trade in Dad’s beloved Buick for a minivan, and buy girl’s clothing and toys for the first time, all on my father’s salary as a junior high music teacher. Then, nine months later, I had the audacity to bust on into the world two weeks early just to ruin Dad’s show. So he went to the person running the concert and told that person that he needed to get out of there as soon as possible because his new baby daughter was coming and basically already ruining his life. (I don’t know the exact words he used, but it was probably something like that, maybe with the addition of the adjective “cottonpickin,’” the strongest language I’ve ever heard him use.) In response, the guy in charge let Dad’s group go first instead of last, as was originally planned. Then, once he and the kids were onstage, Dad sped up the tempo of every song, conducting and pumping his arms like a madman as the students rushed on and stumbled over syncopations . Then, as soon as they were done, he was out of there roadrunner-style, leaving nothing but a cloud of dust and a Tom-sized hole in the wall behind him.
He did get to the hospital in time, but just barely. I slid on out of there mere minutes after he stepped through the delivery room door. Somehow, though, after all that stress over what had just happened and the worry of what was to come, he took slimy little me in his arms, with a neatly trimmed mustache, pressed white tuxedo shirt, glaring green cummerbund, and tennis shoes on. I have a picture to prove it. Since then, he has continued to smile for me, barring the occasional disciplinary action, for the 22 and a half years that he and my mother continued to raise me. For that, I thank him, on Father’s Day and on all other days, and while I can never truly pay him back, I did what I could this year with an insulated coffee mug and a freshly-baked strawberry pie from scratch. He had two pieces.
Thanks y'all. Thanks Dad.