Why something stressful happens can be as hard to figure out as the reflected Roanoke River image in this post.
Last week our family was blessed with a new addition. My youngest daughter had our first grandchild.
The baby had determined her own due date, so she came a little early. Of course my wife and I got things battened down at home and went to be with the new baby as quickly as possible. Our daughter's older sister actually beat us there.
On Sunday after the mother and baby managed to get home from the hospital, we got them settled, and I decided to hitch a ride from Charlotte to Roanoke with my northern Virginia bound oldest daughter.
I wanted to bring back my wife's Roanoke based car so she would have transportation while staying a few days with the new mother.
Tuesday morning, I headed back from Roanoke to Charlotte. I wanted to swing by the Yadkinville area. One of the reasons was to drop off a photo of the new baby to my mother's only surviving sister who turned 95 this year.
I managed to do that and was pleased to see her mind very clear even at 95 years. I was not too surprised since my mother's mind was also fine until her death at 93 and six months.
About that time, the day started to take a turn for the worse. My wife called and said that our new mother was headed to the doctor for some tests since she had some unexplained swelling. My wife was going to keep the baby while they were at the doctor.
I headed to Charlotte with that worry in the back of my mind. I arrived at my daughter's home to find both my wife and the baby gone to the hospital where the doctors had decided to run some tests.
I finally got my wife on the phone only to be told that the room in the hospital was too small for another person so I should just wait at home. Three hours later at around 5 pm my wife shows up with the news that mother and daughter might be spending the night in the hospital. Since there is nothing we can do and neither of us had managed to have any lunch, we headed off to Big Bitz, one of the favorite local eateries.
We enjoyed a nice but quiet meal, and I go fill my wife's car up with gas since the Charlotte gas pumps which ask you for your zip code will throw her for a loop.
Finally a little after six pm I head off on my journey back to the coast. I have duty the next morning and an appointment that evening with a young couple who are buying their first home.
I take Interstate 77 south to NC 73 which I follow over to Interstate 85. I stay on the Interstate until I exit on NC 64 which I will follow to Cary.
Highway 64 is a pleasant two lane road through the countryside. I tend to pick roads that aren't Interstates if the time difference isn't too great. I would rather drive at the 55-65 mph speeds than at the much higher Interstate speeds.
About 7:30 pm I meet some traffic going west bound. It is a sheriff's car. Out of reflex I look down and check my speed. I am doing 59 miles per hour which apparently is okay since the sheriff continues on his way. The cruise control is working well I assume.
The road is straight as an arrow with almost no traffic. There is one car following somewhat annoyingly but at the moment he is three or four car lengths behind me.
Just after I pass the sheriff's car going the other way, my cell phone rings. It's my wife and she is very upset. She tells me that our daughter cannot feel the right side of her face, and that she is in tears. The conversation lasts just over a minute.
After I hang up, for a moment I am lost in thought as to whether or not I should turn around.
Just then I come over the crest of a hill and see a highway patrol car, I look down and see that I am doing 65 miles per hour. I immediately slow down.
Of course the patrolman turns around and quickly chases me down. As he comes up to car, I apologize for losing my focus and speeding. I explain what has happened. The officer's only comment in a very skeptical tone is, "What Hospital?"
He checks to make sure that I am wearing my contacts and goes back to his car. When he comes back, he presents me with a ticket for driving 70 mph in 55 zone. I asked why he didn't cut me some slack. He tells me to bring a note from the hospital and the judge might take it into consideration.
As he is leaving I make the comment that I hope he is never in a situation when this has happened to his daughter. His only comment is, "Yeah I hope that doesn't happen either."
I was pretty amazed by the lack of humanity in someone who is on the government payroll. Just a little bit of sympathy, perhaps something like, "I'm sorry to hear that about your daughter," would have made the experience completely different."
Maybe I should not be surprised since recent reports have police SWAT units breaking into the wrong homes and shooting pets without even apologizing.
Now I'm sure policemen hear all sorts of stories, but I'm a pretty credible old guy. I have probably gotten six tickets in my 43 years of driving. Many of those years I drove over 40,000 miles per year. This is only my second ticket at 70 miles per hour. The first one was in late nineties on Interstate 66 near Washington. I was pulled for doing 70 in a 60 mph zone. I was probably the only person doing just 70 which is why I got the ticket.
Anyway I continued on my trip to coast and about four hours later I arrived at home around 11:30 pm. During the day, I covered about 525 miles and a wide range of emotions. Most of the trip was on highways with 55 mph speed limits but other than that one burst of speed I guess my driving was fine. I saw perhaps six or seven other folks pulled over that evening.
Of course my challenges were not over.
I go into our house at the coast and called my wife who had somewhat better news on my daughter, but it appeared that the doctors still haven't figured out her problem.
I then talk to my oldest daughter who is pretty upset that her sister is back in the hospital.
By then it is about 12:30 am and starting to rain a little. I decide to go check to make sure our irrigation system isn't set to come on later. Just as the door to the garage swings shut, I hear a click and have a sinking feeling in my stomach.
The neighbor who was looking after our home must have turned the button on the door. It locked automatically behind me.
The only spare key is with my neighbors who are sound asleep. I check all the doors, and of course they are locked. I finally see that I have a garage window that is unlocked and up slightly. Unfortunately the sill of my garage window is well over six feet off the ground.
I pull my leftover bale of pine straw over to the window and balance a chair from our dock on the pine straw. By balancing myself on the armrests of the chair, I am able to pop the screen out of the window and use a long stick to pull our ladder close to the window. I haul the ladder out the window, and use it to climb up and get myself on the windowsill.
Then I say a prayer and slowly lower myself into the garage and head to the shower since I am soaked at this point. At least I did not have any broken bones.
After I get in the shower, I say another prayer of thanks that the same highway patrolman didn't happen by when I was breaking into my own house. I am sure he would have shot first and asked questions later.
By this afternoon, the doctors and nurses figured out what was wrong with my daughter and have begun treatment. She already seems to feel a little better, and her baby is doing better. They are back home much to everyone's delight.
Thanks to everyone for their kind thoughts and support.
I am looking for better days ahead.