Remembering

Kathleen Delaney, author of And Murder for Dessert and other books, retired from real estate to pursue writing full time. Her long time love of small towns sent her looking through the Carolina’s for a new place to settle, Gaffney. Limestone College, a delightful historic district, and a great library immediately drew her in. She lives in a wonderful 100 year old house, with a wrap around front porch, where she can while away a summer afternoon, and a big office, lined with bookcases, where she can spend her days writing. And, as always, reading.

I had planned an entirely different blog for today when I realized this is the eleventh of September, the eleventh anniversary of perhaps the most horrific day in our American history.

It’s also my granddaughter’s birthday.

There are a few days in our collective history that none of us will ever forget. As long as we live, we’ll tell the story of where we were and what we were doing when Pearl Harbor was attacked, or John Kennedy was shot, or Martin Luther King, or Bobby Kennedy. It seemed for a while that violence and hate were out of control. Just when we thought we’d seen the worst, nine eleven came.

We all have a story to tell about that awful day. Here is mine.

My youngest daughter was due to give birth to her first child, but said child didn’t seem too eager to put in an appearance. So, when she called me early on the morning of September tenth, I knew we were finally on our way. Call the doctor, I said, and started to make my own preparations. I lived on California’s central coast; she was in the LA area, four or more hours away.

The baby was in no hurry. We spent a difficult night, my daughter, the baby’s father and I, while the hospital staff popped in and out monitoring her progress and the baby’s heart beat. On toward morning, there was much discussion why she wasn’t making progress and worry about a dry birth. They weren’t as worried as I was. So, even though the television was on, I missed it. “An airplane just flew into that building,” the baby’s father said, staring transfixed at the TV. “Not possible,” I answered, but I turned to look as one of the Twin Towers spewed smoke and flames. We both stood, uncomprehending, as the second plane went in. Nurses came in to check on my daughter and stayed to stare at the TV. We spoke to each other in hushed tones; as if to speak too loudly would make what we were watching real. Suddenly, for me, it became very real. Paralysis melted and my brain started to function. One of my sons worked in New York, across the plaza from the Twin Towers! They were talking about other buildings on fire! Which ones? I had visited his family not that long ago. One evening, after I had spent the day in the city, he and I walked over to one of the towers for a glass of wine before returning to Long Island. We went to the top, took our wine out onto the viewing area and watched the lights of New York come on. It had been magical. It wasn’t magical now. I had to know where he was. I grabbed my cell phone and ran downstairs. It was impossible to get through to New York. I needed to get back upstairs. My daughter’s pains were coming faster and she was in extreme distress. An emergency C-section loomed large in my mind, but so did my son. Where was he? I phoned another daughter who lived in the LA area.  She had heard the news but was on her way to her job as a teacher. Don’t leave until you find your brother, I instructed, no one is going to send their kids to school today anyway. Upstairs, things weren’t going so well. The doctor was on her way; nurses were glued to the fetal monitor with scarcely a glance at the TV. It stopped me, however, when I heard the announcer say all planes were grounded and anything in the air was to land immediately. My oldest daughter and my son-in-law were supposed to have left for Texas that morning. Where were they? A quick check of my watch said they should be halfway from San Louis Obispo to LA. If they made it there, they could go no further. Someone would have to get them. It wasn’t going to be me. The baby had finally decided to make its appearance. Come help her, the doctor directed. I held one knee, the father the other while the doctor instructed my daughter to “push.” The TV screamed the fate of the third plane in the background.

I have often marveled at how lucky we were that day when so many others suffered so greatly. My daughter and son-in-law’s plane never got off the ground in San Luis Obispo. My New York son had gone to a meeting in another direction and never made the city and my daughter presented us with a beautiful baby girl, mother and daughter were both just fine.

So, Happy Birthday, Dalia Kate. Happy Birthday to all of you who were born on that day. You brought happiness and joy into a day that saw precious little of it.

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