I’ll never forget it. We went to the hospital at 8:00 p.m., and I spent that night trying unsuccessfully to sleep in a chair beside Dee’s bed. At 7:10 that next morning, the doctor began to stimulate labor. He broke the water at 9:00, heavy labor began around 10:00, and Hannah was born at 10:45 a.m., July 11th, 1980. We were parents! I was a father!
Hannah, my daughter, cried for just a moment; the nurse wrapped a blanket around her and she quieted. She opened her eyes and looked around. What a wonderful little person!
After a sleepless night and the drama of Hannah’s delivery, I was badly in need of a shower. I drove home, and a funny thing happened as I pulled into the driveway. I sat there exhausted, leaning over the steering wheel, and stared out at the wooden steps leading up to our house. The steps were rickety. One board was a little rotten on one end, and some rusty nails had gouged their way to the surface. Another board had warped up off the supports.
I had never given any thought to those steps before, and neither had any of the hundreds of people who had made their way up and down without injury. But the thought occurred to me that a new mother carrying a new baby would soon be climbing those rickety stairs.
So, exhausted as I was, I got out the power saw, some wood, a handful of nails, a square, and a hammer. For the next three hours, I built steps. And then I went in, took a shower, and headed right back to the hospital.
I was a brand new father, keenly aware of my new responsibility to care for and protect my family.
It’s a common response for new fathers. I heard of another man who began to wear his seat belt in the car after he learned that he was going to become a father because, as he said, “I no longer had any right to die.”
New fathers often have a keen sense that their lives have a higher purpose, and that their actions have very real and powerful consequences.
You know, maybe we all need to revisit those days now and then.