Not without some excitement and terrifying moments, my grandson, Carter Thomas Gilstrap, came into this world on Monday, Oct. 23.
He spent a few days in the NICU - and I know what that acronym means now. It’s the Neo Natal Intensive Care Unit. Scariest place on earth when you’re standing there and the doctor, young enough to be Doogie Howser, says to you, “We have a problem.”
But you soon find out the NICU (Nick-You phonetically) is the best place for your baby when he’s having a little trouble adjusting to life on the outside.
That said, Carter is doing fine and home with his momma and I am now officially Big Pappy.
Carter tipped the scales at 8 pounds and 12 ounces, and 21.5 inches long.
You get used to saying NICU and the stigma of being in intensive care isn’t a death sentence at all like you feared, and you’re thankful there is a place like this in rural North Georgia close to home.
Hospital parking, as you all know, is horrendous.
A nightmare from which there is no waking.
I’m sure in the theological scheme of things there is a purgatory somewhere among Dante’s Nine Levels of Hell where you are forever circling a parking lot looking for a place to park. On a Wednesday morning I thought this would be my case. Carter would graduate from college before I found a place to park.
I am also one of those few people not succumbing to what I call Parking Lot Anarchy.
I observe all lane markings. I’m confident enough about myself to drive a vehicle that only requires four tires; doesn’t have the words dualie, extended cab or male sheep in its title and takes up just one parking space; and I observe all yellow curbs.
This day though, as I made my fifth or sixth trip around the parking lot without realizing any luck, I come upon an empty parking space.
The empty space was located near the front of the hospital and not a long walk up the hill. For clarification, in North Georgia and the foothills of the Appalachians, EVERYTHING is located on a hill. Other cars have passed by this space because it was marked RESERVED. There were six such spaces, five of which were reserved for expectant parents and doctors.
This sixth space said, “RESERVED FOR CLERGY.”
I had almost passed the empty parking space when it hit me: War Damn Eagle, I am a member of the clergy.
Remember, I was once mistaken for a priest in Books a Million the day Pope Benedict announced his resignation and I pulled that one off without a hitch, and second, I am an ordained minister, a man of the cloth.
I had my paperwork in the glove box to prove it too. So I popped open the glove box, whipped out my official Monastery of Good Hope Among Brother Friars certificate and slapped that parchment on the dashboard.
I was halfway up the hill when sudden remorse hit me.
You are stretching this Dan.
Seminary lasted all of five minutes for you.
You will have to answer to a higher power for this transgression.
The Fear hit me like an umbrella upside the head. I turned on a dime and returned to my minivan. I’ll find another spot.
I was fearful of this higher power.
And no, the fear of God wasn’t in me.
This was, as I said, a higher power.