We were driving home from church and my bride of three years pleaded her best case for Sunday dinner in a white tablecloth restaurant. It was May 13, 1984. Within minutes the New York Knicks were set to take on the Boston Celtics in round two of the NBA playoffs, both tied at three games each.
By my calculations we had just enough time to drive home, change clothes and turn the television set to what promised to be an exciting basketball game.
But the bride was having none of it. It was a nice spring day and she did not want to be in the kitchen listening to me yell over the roar of the television set.
Relentlessly she persisted.
“But I have cooked all week,” she said.
“The series is tied three to three,” I retorted.
“It’s too hot to cook and I don’t want to be in the kitchen all day,” she replied.
“Come on,” I appealed, “I missed Friday night’s game because of the Revival, let’s go home and watch the game.”
But I don’t want to cook.” She was coming in for the kill. It was hard to tell which one of us would be graduating from law school later in the year.
“Well, I don’t want dinner,” I said.
“But it’s Mother’s Day,” she roared.
“You are not a Mother,” I chided.
“It doesn’t matter, it’s Mother’s Day and I don’t want to cook. I want to go out to dinner.”
I had been concentrating on driving home in time for the basketball game. Wives have a way of gaining the upper hand in social matters. The conversation was about to get out of control. I was at risk of not ever having a home cooked meal again.
“I tell you what, if you let me go home and watch this game, next year I will give you a Mother’s Day gift that you will never forget as long as you live,” I predicted with certainty.
She did not say another word. We arrived home. I turned the television on in time to see the Knicks, led by the league’s leading scorer Bernard King, take on the league’s second leading scorer, the Celtics’ Larry Bird.
Boston won the game and later went on to beat the Los Angeles Lakers for the NBA championship. My wife cooked dinner and I had a promise to keep.
Words are such a powerful force of creative energy. No sooner had I spoken those words than I felt a movement toward delivering upon my promise. I had the same mental impression the night I met my bride. When we embraced and said good night, I knew I had met the lady I would marry.
After the game and dinner, we drove out to the local Dairy Queen for ice cream. We were talking again. Time marched on and in August, I graduated from Law School. The bride was seated near me. I was able to turn and hand her my sheepskin.
She had worked just as hard as I had for it. I noticed her waist line was beginning to thicken. She had a certain glow. At Thanksgiving we broke the news. We were in the family way.
Two days before Mother’s Day 1985, I got a call at work. “I think it’s time,” she said. I didn’t feel it was time, but it was Friday and I had had enough of drafting personal injury complaints, so I asked the managing partner of the firm for permission to take the wife to the doctor.
It was not her time, nor the time to fulfill my promise of a year earlier. The doctor informed us that he was leaving that afternoon for a weeklong medical conference out of state, but not to worry. “None of my patients ever deliver while I am out of town.”
One day before Mother’s Day and I was not any closer to keeping my word than I was when I made the promise. I got up and mowed our two-acre lawn by push mower.
The job took all day. After I took a shower, we drove to the local grocery store to stock up on food items before the baby came. When we arrived back home around 6:00 p.m., my bride said, “Oh, I think it’s time.”
We got the groceries in the house and called the doctor. The doctor on call ordered us to the hospital.
Around 10 p.m., I had agreed to make a dinner run for the nurses. Before leaving the nurse checked to see if all was well. Things were changing, the baby who had been in perfect position the entire term suddenly decided to turn into the breech position. The doctor was called and a decision was made “to take the baby.”
By the time my bride was prepared for delivery the doctor came in and at 1:12 a.m., Sunday, May 12, 1985 he handed my son to me. This brand new life force looked at me with eyes wide-open as if to say: “I am here dad. What do we do next?” I looked back at him and verbally said: “I don’t know son, but your mother will know, let’s go ask her what we should do now.”
I placed him in the nursery. When I crossed the threshold of my bride’s room, that prophetic feeling I had the night I met her came over me. I knew I had just delivered on the promise to give her a gift for Mother’s Day 1985 she will never forget as long as she lives.
Harold Michael Harvey is an American novelist and essayist. He is a Contributor at The Hill, SCLC National Magazine, Southern Changes Magazine and Black College Nines. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org