Baby Road: Day 6 Part 1 & 2 by Bill Pike

By my usual Sunday schedule, I had overslept.  Outside the streets were quiet as was the condo. At some point today that quietness would disappear for a long, long time—Hudson comes home. Baby6.jpg

Soon the condo had some life. The Princess and Nahna were planning breakfast. I was waiting for my grocery list and navigational orders. With running temporarily off my exercise list, I was going to make the walk to Trader Joe’s. Nahna was going to start cooking some meals to carry us through the week.

But before I headed out, a friend of our daughter’s who she knew in Richmond from high school was going to stop by. The friend who now lives in Mt. Prospect, Illinois was dropping off a care package of items from prepared frozen meals, ingredients for meals to fix from scratch, and a freshly made coffee cake from the Central Continental Bakery. In the baking business since 1922, one bite of the coffee cake affirmed why this bakery is still in business.

After offering our thanks and saying goodbye, I prepared for my departure to Trader Joe’s.

Nahna had given me a list of items to purchase and directions. The walk would be just over a mile, and it only involved three left turns Armitage, North Kenmore, North Clybourn.

It was cool, but no breeze. Many of the store fronts from past walks had managed to survive another year—some had not. The quietness of a side street of homes was broken by the clanking of an extension ladder.

Some entrance areas to homes and apartments still had small piles of brown leaves long forgotten from the fall hanging around. Newspapers fading in their plastic bags were hoping someone might pick them up.

In warmer weather, the always bustling firehouse would have its bay doors open proudly showing their wares, but not on this cool morning. The now antique Schlitz Beer sign still hangs prominently above the door at the bar on the corner of Halstead and Armitage.

I walk under the elevated train bridge getting closer to the left turn on Kenmore. A Catholic church at the corner of Armitage and Kenmore has a few patrons hustling in for a service.

On Kenmore homes line both sides of the street. I meet a friendly dog walker, and overhear young parents across the street talking with their oldest child about losing toy playing privileges—a tough start for his day.

The twists and turns on Kenmore lead me to the left on Clybourn and Trader Joe’s is in sight. Once inside, I start working through the list, and I only make one call to Nahna asking for advice.

With two recyclable grocery bags neatly packed, I started the walk back.

Eventually, I was across from Lincoln Park High School. I noticed a sign advertising Second City Church. This non-denominational church meets on Sunday mornings at 10 in the high school’s auditorium. At the bottom of the sign were the words: Second chance. Second life.

Made it back to the condo. Unloaded the grocery bags. Nahna prepped and then added ingredients into the crock pot for tonight’s dinner.

Our son-in-law used public transportation for a quick ride to come back to the condo to pick up the car. We were all anticipating an afternoon dismissal from the hospital.

Soon it was lunch time for the Princess with a nap to follow. She too was anticipating the arrival of her parents and her little brother, Hudson.

At some point after lunch, Nahna received a text—they had left the hospital.


Baby Road: Day Six Part II 

Sometime after three, they arrived. A parking spot awaited them in front of the condo. I headed down the three flights of stairs to meet them and help unload. Baby6-2.jpg

Snuggly tucked in his car seat, Hudson was wearing a cap colored to match the blue afternoon sky. I grabbed some bags to take upstairs. Then headed back down for another load. I met our son-in-law in the stairwell. He had the remaining items.

Eventually, we both ended up at the entrance to the condo with his wife and Hudson. They wanted a photo of the three of them before they entered the building. My daughter handed me her iPhone. This was going to be an experience as I am still the proud owner of a flip phone.

The other day she called to FaceTime from the hospital. I was the only one available to pick up Nahna’s phone. I assumed it was just a phone call. My finger swiped the button and I put the phone up to my ear. Clearly, my daughter on the other end didn’t expect to be looking into an ear.

But this afternoon, the technology gods were on my side. After a quick lesson, I snapped a couple of photos on the iPhone. Luckily, they met the standard.

It was a long climb up the three flights of stairs for my daughter, but she made it. Nahna was at the top of the stairs waiting to greet her and Hudson.

The Princess was going to be waking up from her afternoon nap soon. She was going to have a nice surprise awaiting her.

Loaded with restful energy, the Princess was all smiles to see mom, dad, and Hudson.

Slowly, things settled down. Our son-in-law was headed for a short walk to the CVS to pick up assorted prescriptions.

Nahna, the Princess, and I were going to walk over to Bauler Park for some swing riding. The Princess rode her tricycle, and she enjoyed rolling over the bumps in the sidewalks.

Bauler Park was in constant motion— kids in every direction. Parents chatting and watching out for unpredictable collisions.

On our previous trips to Bauler Park, we had noticed blue ribbons tied to tree trunks and lampposts along the way. When we returned home, I asked our daughter about the ribbons.

The ribbons are a tribute from the neighborhood to honor the memory of a Chicago police officer who was the commander for this section of Lincoln Park. Sadly, the officer was killed in the line of duty.

When we returned from the park, I was asked to run an errand to CVS. Our wonderful son-in-law had forgotten to purchase a bottle of stool softener.

I make the quick walk to CVS. Walk in the door and immediately I start scanning the aisle signs. An alert employee noted I was searching for something. She asked if I needed help.

While I’m sure she was trained to know where every product in the store was located, I wasn’t about to blurt out stool softener, nor would I have exclaimed Tampax or condoms. I thanked her and politely declined, and in the laxatives aisle I found the product.

Once back at the condo, the Princess had finished her dinner. Bedtime wasn’t far off for her.

Hudson was being Hudson, a baby, trying to adjust.

The walk to Trader Joe’s had been worth it. Nahna’s crock pot magic produced a delicious chicken dinner. We ate in shifts. Then cleaned up the kitchen and prepared for bed.

Little did we know, Hudson was going to give us a long, unrestful night.

When we make the decision to become parents, long unrestful nights are to be expected.

For whatever reason, young Hudson made sure that his first night in his new home was going to be etched forever in the minds of his parents and grandparents. He apparently was thinking—I’m here, and there is nothing in your bag of tricks that are going to settle me down.

Hudson was correct. It was a long, long, long, long, long night.

Weary faces and bodies found it hard to greet the light of a new day.

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