"Gerry, it's time" shrieked Allison.
Gerald was going over some notes on his latest project in preparation for the presentation on Monday. "What's that you said, dear?"
"I SAID IT'S TIME!"
"Oh...OH, it's THAT time. These were the words he had both been looking forward to and dreading for the last nine months. He had mentally rehearsed each moment and memorized every turn to the hospital, including several alternate routes in case of traffic.
Now the time had come.
"Think" he mumbled to himself. "Grab the car, put Allison in the bag...hospital, I gotta call the hospital. No, bring the car around and wait, I'll get it...just calm down...and breathe."
"Gerry, I'm the one whose supposed to breathe. You call the hospital and tell them we're coming, take the bag to the car and bring it around to the front. We'll call Mom on the way."
"Sheesh, there's no one more nervous than a new father-to-be" declared Allison. "It will be all right."
Gerald brings the car up the front drive and helps Allison into the passenger's seat. "Let me slide the seat back for you." "Thank God this is it" she exclaimed.
Allison's size had been an extreme source of frustration from being unable to tie her shoes to the shapeless dresses she'd had to wear for the last three months. While she embraced the thought of motherhood, she was a fashionable gal, and did not enjoy feeling frumpy. Even Gerald's constant reassurance that she was indeed the most beautiful woman on earth did not help when every time she walked past a mirror she saw a blimp in maternity clothes.
They reached the hospital without incident, and Gerald promptly announced "I need a doctor...We're having a baby."
"Relax" replied the nurse, calling for an orderly. "We'll take good care of your wife. If you would just step over here and fill out these papers. We'll take you to her as soon as she is situated in her room."
"Is this your first?"
"My first what? Wife? Yes, we were married last year. No, you mean baby. Yes, it's my first, how can you tell?"
"Well, under reason for hospitalization, you put "we're having a baby."
24 hours later...
"She's beautiful," cooed a jubilant Gerald. "She looks just like my mother when she was a baby. I have her old photo album, and there is a picture of her in my grandmother's arms. She had beautiful blond curls, too. I'll have to show it to you sometime. Oh, I've been going on and on, and I bet you just want to sleep. I'll get the nurse to take the baby back to the nursery, and go make those phone calls. Wait, I've got to get a picture to send everyone, I know I'll just email them instead of calling.
"Gerry, I love you, but just go...please. It's been a really long day-all 24 hours of it. I'll see you tomorrow.
Back at home, Gerald revels in his new fatherhood status, and prepares to send a picture of who? She doesn't even have a name yet. He regroups and sends a picture of his lovely new daughter...name TBA.
When Gerald arrived back at the hospital the next morning, he was so excited. He knew what he wanted to call their daughter. Upon entering Allison's room he blurted out "Her name is Abigail Christine! For our mothers, that is if you like it."
"Good morning to you, too, Gerry. Of course I like it. It's perfect! I just wish I could have met your mother." She smiled a sad smile, remembering the yellow roses. "We shall call her Abbey, and paint her room yellow - no pink for my daughter."
Gerald laughed at the thought. For all her femininity, Allison hated pink, especially that pale, baby girl pink so many mothers dressed their little girls in. Not for Abbey!
"The doctor said you can go home this afternoon, and everything is all ready so all you have to do is rest. Janet even brought over a casserole and chocolate cake for our dinner."
"She's a sweetheart" replied Allison, "and such a good cook. Oh, is my mother coming over?"
"Of course she is" said Gerald with a smile. He truly liked his mother-in-law and welcomed her help. He knew that most new mothers wanted their mothers nearby. Since babies don't come with instructions, their experience is appreciated.
Once they got Allison and Abbey settled into the master bedroom where the crib had been set up, Gerald set about heating the casserole and setting the table. He knew Allison wouldn't feel like sitting up too long, so everything was in place before he brought her to the table.
"Put me down, please" she complained. "Thank you for caring, but I can walk. I just had a baby, not a broken leg." Abbey was in a baby seat on the chair facing Allison. Christine, Allison's mother, sat cooing at the baby, "you are such a beautiful baby. I love that little yellow outfit. It's perfect for you."
As they sat enjoying their dinner, they heard an odd sound coming from the side porch next to the kitchen. Gerald went to investigate, but saw nothing and returned to the table. There it was again. It sounded like someone walking in the kitchen. Again Gerald left the table. What he saw when he walked into the kitchen filled him with great joy, and at the same time left him feeling most uneasy.
There in her apron with her white hair neatly coiled atop her head stood his mother. Well, not exactly in the flesh, but nevertheless, it was her, and in her hand was a bouquet of exquisite yellow roses.
"Hello Gerald" she whispered. "These are for Allison. I am so proud of you and your lovely family. I loved her from the first time I saw her in the garden."
"Oh Mother, I knew you were here. That I wasn't crazy or imagining things. It is wonderful to see you now. I have so many questions...like how...?"
"Would it be too much for an old woman to ask to see her grandchild?" interrupted Abigail.
Gerald was stunned, totally at a loss for words. What would they think? How could he possibly explain this?
"Gerry, who are you talking to", called Allison. "Was someone at the door?"
"Be right there dear" he called back. He was so used to talking to his mother in the garden he forgot to keep his voice down.
"Now what do I do" he whispered?
"Let me handle this. After all it is my afterlife, right?" answered his mother with a smile.
With much trepidation, Gerald watched as his mother marched into the dining room to stand before Allison.
"Hello, I am Abigail, Gerald's mother. I am so pleased to finally meet you."
Without blinking, Allison extended her hand toward Abigail and said "I am equally pleased to finally meet you as well."
Well, Gerald's jaw nearly dropped to the floor and Christine turned several shades of pale. Although she believed in life beyond death, she had never actually encountered it herself.
"You mean you knew? How..."
"First of all you spend an awful lot of time in the garden talking to yourself when you think no one notices" explained Allison. "Then there was the appearance of the yellow rose on my plate after our first dinner together, and the brooch at our reception with no explanation for that either. It was just too much to be a coincidence."
"At the hospital, when you told me what you wanted to name her, I almost said I wish I could meet your mother instead of I wish I could have met, your mother."
"It helps, too, that I believe in the afterlife. You see I had a 'visit' from my grandmother when I was about ten. She had passed away a few years earlier."
Allison turned to her mother-in-law, "would you like to meet your granddaughter?"
"Say hello to Abigail Christine."
For those of you who would like to catch up, here are the first 4 parts of the series.
The Rose Garden
The Rose Garden: Allison
The Rose Garden: The Wedding