Baby Road: Day 4 by Bill Pike

One of my favorite quotes comes from American writer, James Thurber. Thurber stated:  “Humor is emotional chaos remembered in tranquility.”

I can personally vouch for this being true.

Our family’s first trip to Sanibel Island, Florida met the Thurber test. That first day of travel was motion sickness and barf bags from the first leg of the flight. This was quickly followed by there are no barf bags in rental cars.


Recently, a class on Carl Wilson that my childhood pal, Joe Vanderford, and I taught for the Osher Institute at the University of Richmond passed the test too. That one focused on technology and the accidental bump of a critical button.



But, I’m pretty sure nothing is going to compare to departing the hospital in Chicago after paying our first visit to our new grandson.

Early on the morning of Friday, April 20, a plan was developed to allow us to visit our new grandson. The goal was to arrive between 9:30 and 10:00.

It already was an exciting morning in the neighborhood as the resurfacing of the street was starting. We left on time, navigated Chicago traffic, and found our way to the parking garage across from Northwestern Medicine Prentice Women’s Hospital.

The parking deck is a busy place. We grabbed our ticket from the dispenser, cleared the gate, and made our way to level 8 where we found a parking spot. The Princess, Nahna, and I walked to the elevator. We took note that we were on the Barbara Streisand floor. The elevator was going to dump us out on Superior Street.

We crossed the street and entered the hospital. There we checked in and were given badges to wear. A quick stop was made in the florist shop to purchase an “It’s A Boy” balloon. From there it was a quick walk to the elevator and the appropriate floor for one more security clearance.

Caroline & Hudson

With the Princess and the balloon in tow, Nahna almost sprinted to Room 1369. Upon entering the room, our daughter was resting in her bed. Hudson was being held by his father in a chair looking out the window at the tops of buildings.

Our visit was a good one. We received a detailed report about Hudson’s arrival. Hudson was cooperative as we took our turns holding him with photos being snapped. A doctor stopped by to talk about the circumcision that was scheduled for this morning.

Pretty soon, we were working on saying goodbye for the day. A scheduled stop in the lobby for a Dunkin’ Donut was top on the list for the Princess.

Now, there was no trouble with the donuts, in fact, the donuts would come in handy.

The trouble started as we walked out of the hospital. We took the second floor bridge over to the parking deck. Then took the elevator to the eighth floor and there was Barbara Streisand just like we had left her, but we couldn’t find the car. Checked a couple of aisles, pushed the unlock button for the car, but no luck.

Next, we figured out we were on the Huron Street side of the building, not Superior where we had started. I’m sure there was a simple solution, but Nahna and I were too agitated with each other to think. Forty three years of marriage was about to be tossed into Lake Michigan.

So, I sent Nahna and the Princess down to the ground level of Huron. I headed toward the ground level of Superior. I remembered seeing  a Northwestern University Police office when we had exited the parking deck on Superior.

I found the police office and the Superior Street entrance. Then I took the elevator to floor 8, there was Barbara again, and I walked right to our car.

It gets better.

Nahna calls to tell me where they are waiting for me on Huron. By the time I make all of the twisting turns to the exit gate, I’m wishing I had a barf bag. I find the validated ticket, slide it into the scanner, and the gate doesn’t open.

I push the red button asking for assistance. A lady comes on the speaker and asks me to read the screen. It says something about a coupon. She tells me she is sending someone. An attendant shows up, works his magic, and the gate rises.

Nahna told me to make a right turn out of the deck. When I exit, I do, they see me, but I don’t see them.

Nuclear meltdown number two begins.

I am advised that a series of right turns will bring me back to the one way Huron Street. Of course, because of traffic, I miss the first right turn on to Michigan Avenue.

Nuclear meltdown number three begins, along with the planning for my funeral arrangements back in Richmond.  Nahna has Woody’s on speed dial.

Don’t ask me how, but by the grace of God, I navigated myself back to Huron Street to pick up Nahna and the Princess. I think the two donuts they ate possibly prevented nuclear meltdown number four.

Even better, our son-in-law’s car survived that ordeal without a dent or a scratch.

I’m still wondering how I pushed through 4-way intersections with stop signs, made a wide right turn at a construction intersection with the head of a worker sticking up out of a manhole, and making sure I didn’t go the wrong way on a one-way street.

Thurber was correct that whole set of circumstances was emotional chaos.

Painful at the time, but in the quietness before bed time I chuckle.

And I am thankful too.

I understand my funeral arrangements back in Richmond have been temporarily put on hold.

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