Captain John Gage stretched after several hours of working with the horses. It was a beautiful, fall day. He glanced up at his house and smiled, thinking that he sometimes still couldn't believe he actually owned his dream ranch. All the more unbelievable was that he was married, and his first child was on the way. The guys at the station hadn't believed him when he'd first told them that he and Becky were getting married. They'd thought Johnny would forever be a bachelor. Johnny smiled widely as the memory of Roy's face when he announced he was getting married flashed into his mind. He shook his head, not even quite believing himself that he was now an 'old married man', like his best friend. Six years ago, he never would have believed it.
Johnny had met Becky, of all places, at the local Tack & Feed store where he went to purchase some needed supplies for his ranch. She was an employee there. They fell in love quickly and were married six months later. To their great joy, Becky had become pregnant after a frustrating five years of trying. Now, eight months pregnant, she was spending her last week on the job, after working there throughout most of her pregnancy. They had received a discount on feed, and with the six horses they had and three of the mares being pregnant, they needed the discount. She'd promised her boss that she would get the bookwork done before she went on leave. Johnny and Becky hadn’t decided yet if she would go back after the baby came. They were talking about the idea of her bringing the books home to do the bookkeeping and her boss seemed to think that was a great idea.
Johnny hung up his tack, and took a moment to relax. It had been a busy day so far. Before he began working with the horses, he and Becky had spent part of the morning together, putting the finishing touches on the nursery. Once again, he smiled, as he thought of the nursery and the coming baby.
Distracted from his thoughts, Johnny looked around when he heard his wife come out of the house. He smiled wider as she walked toward him; her face positively glowed from the effects of her pregnancy. Wordlessly, Johnny wrapped his arm around her, and walked her to the car, kissed her and told her to drive carefully. She smiled at him and promised she would, then got in her car and drove to work.
Unknown to Johnny and Becky, the feed store had received a delivery of feed that morning. One of the newly delivered pallets was weak, nailed together with substandard nails. The teenage boy hired to unload the delivery had forked it in, placing it on top of several other pallets and hadn't gotten it quite even with the one below it.
Becky walked in from the parking lot, through the warehouse. Hearing an odd, creaking sound, Becky picked up her pace, sensing danger. As she hurried past, the nails in the pallet finally gave way sending multiple 80 pound bags of feed crashing down on top of her. She tried to run, but had barely a moments notice; being heavily pregnant she wasn't able to move out of the way quickly enough. Screaming, she turned away as they began to hit her and doubled over, protecting her middle while managing to get her arms and legs wrapped around her, protecting the baby before being buried under the sacks of feed. Terror filled her as waves of crushing pain filled her chest. Her last thought before passing out was to pray that her baby would be okay.
Hearing the crash, her boss and a couple other employees came running. All they could see were Becky’s feet sticking out from under the pile.
After quickly sending one of his employees to call not only for help, but for Becky's husband, Becky’s boss began talking to her. They cleared the surrounding feed bags out of the way but were unsure whether they should lift the bags off her, so they left them, waiting for help.
Station 51’s B shift responded to the call. Captain Stanley was on duty, working overtime for the B shift Captain. Just after the paramedics had started issuing orders, Captain Stanley heard a commotion coming from the entrance. Looking over he saw Johnny frantically trying to get through, being held back by one of the other firemen. Upon seeing Johnny, Captain Stanley quickly put two and two together, suddenly realizing with a knot in his stomach that this woman was Gage's wife. His first instinct was to keep Johnny away from the grisly scene.
Taking Johnny by the arm, Captain Stanley said, “Johnny, hang on, pal. Bob & Charlie are doing everything they can for her.”
Turning distressed eyes toward his former Captain, Johnny implored, “I’ve got to get to her Cap. Please…let me get to her.”
Captain Stanley could see the fear in his friend’s eyes. He spoke soothingly, saying, “John, I know you’re scared out of your mind right now, but why don't you stay back here with me. They'll take good care of her."
Johnny drew in a deep breath. “Cap, I'm not gonna get in the way; I promise. I just gotta...." Captain Stanley's eyes locked with Johnny's, and reluctantly, he let go of Johnny's arm, trusting him to do exactly as he promised, and knowing, if it were him, he'd have to be there too.
Fearfully, Johnny knelt down at Becky’s head, his face a picture of the anguish he was experiencing. The paramedics had made short work of getting her treated. Becky, still unconscious, had bilateral IV’s in her arms and an oxygen mask on her face. In addition she was placed on a backboard; they were using full spinal precautions. Johnny could see bruises already starting to rise on Becky’s face and arms. He inwardly shuddered, knowing how badly she must be hurt.
Unwilling to consider the alternative, he breathed, “Becky, honey, you’re going to be all right.”
With compassion in his voice, Bob said, “We’re ready to get her out of here now, Johnny. The ambulance is here.”
Johnny looked and saw that indeed a gurney had arrived. Becky was quickly loaded on it and rushed out. As he tried to get in the back of the ambulance they gently told him he needed to ride up front.
Time seemed to blur together to Johnny on that long ambulance ride. In reality it was only five minutes from the feed store to Rampart.
Having been advised of whom their patient was, Dixie had called Roy, getting him on his way. She met Johnny at the door and quickly steered him into the staff lounge.
“Johnny, you need to stay here. Roy is on his way. You know Dr. Brackett and Dr. Early will do everything they can. Becky’s OB has been called and will be here momentarily. You hang in there; we’ll let you know what’s going on as soon as we can.”
Dixie stayed with Johnny until Roy arrived. It wasn’t very long before Johnny realized the whole rest of their former A shift was there, including Captain Stanley who had managed to get a replacement to take the rest of his shift.
Dr. Brackett came into the lounge and sat down beside Johnny. Softly he said, “Johnny I’m sorry I don’t have better news to tell you right now. Becky is in critical condition. She’s also gone into labor. She has regained consciousness and is asking for you. We’ve got approval for you to come in for the delivery but we need to get you changed and scrubbed quickly; at the rate her labor is progressing, we think she is minutes away from delivering.”
Hearing this, Johnny jumped up and hurried after Dr. Brackett without a word. He’d never felt such anxiety in his life. He silently cursed his medical knowledge; at this moment it was only adding to his fear. As soon as he was prepared, the doctor led him into the delivery room. Dixie was already there and directed him to sit on the stool by Becky’s head.
“Johnny…hurts….” Becky whispered
“I know, sweetheart…I know…As soon as the baby is here they’re going to fix you up.” Willing his hands to stop shaking, Johnny gently took Becky’s hand in his, continuing to whisper encouragement to her as her labor quickly progressed.
**I’ve got to be strong for Becky. I know I’m terrified but I’ve got to be positive for her.**
Becky’s OB checked her and told her it was time to push. It broke Johnny’s heart to see his wife in such pain but he admired how she responded to the situation, clearly focused on the difficult task of delivering the baby through all her pain.
“That’s it, honey, you’re doing fine. I love you. You can do it,” Johnny assured her.
Only minutes after she started pushing, Becky delivered their daughter. Gasping, she cried out in pain.
“We’ve got a daughter, Becky…A beautiful daughter.”
Dixie took the baby and placed it between Johnny and Becky where she could see her for just a moment, then the squalling baby was whisked away to the neonatal nursery.
“She’s…beautiful…take care…her…Johnny. Love…you.”
Johnny attempted to smile at his wife but was unable to stop the tears that began to fill his eyes. His voice shaky, he implored, “We’ll take care of her together, Becky.”
“Promise…Johnny.” Becky looked into his tear filled eyes.
“I promise Becky. I’d give my life for her. I love you, Becky.”
The monitors began screaming and Johnny found himself forced from the room, led out by Dixie and another nurse.
Standing outside the delivery room, Johnny found himself surrounded by his crewmates. His face a stiff mask, Johnny couldn’t find the words to explain anything to his friends. His eyes remained fixed on the door through which he had exited, hoping for a miracle but fearful of the outcome. In addition, he couldn’t help but wonder what was happening a few doors down in the neonatal nursery. He knew he should go find out what was going on with his brand new daughter, but he was unable to pull himself further away from his wife.
Moments later, Dr. Brackett and Dr. Early came out. Kel didn’t have to say a word but merely placed a gentle hand on Johnny’s shoulder. Dr. Brackett whispered, “I’m so sorry, Johnny. We did everything we could.”
Numb, Johnny could only reply, “I know you did.”
“Wake up Daddy! I brought you your breakfast!”
Johnny stirred, then cracked his eyes open. The clock read 4:30 a.m. He saw his little girl, Rebecca, standing before him, eyes alight with joy. She quickly shoved the tray she held in her hands on top of him, grinning like a banshee.
“I made breakfast for you daddy. Just how you like it…well, but I couldn’t heat up the coffee. You like it cold, too, don’t you Daddy?”
“Oh yes, sweetheart. I love what you’ve brought me.”
Johnny studied the tray, discovering its other contents. It contained a mug filled with flowers, a bowl of chocolate cereal overflowing with milk, two slices of burned toast, dripping with butter and covered in grape jelly.
In addition it contained a hand drawn card labeled, “Happy Father’s Day Daddy.”
Looking at the inside, Johnny read:
My dad is special. He takes me to games. He listens to my stories. He fixes my owies. My dad helps people. My dad was a paramedic. Now my dad is a Fire Captain.
A paramedic is a special kind of fireman who helps people when they get hurt. Sometimes they go into fires to bring people out. Sometimes they get hurt.
My dad is the best Captain ever. My dad takes care of his firemen. My dad helps people by telling his men where to go. My dad gets to ride on a great big fire engine.
My dad even helps people on his vacation. He has climbed up mountains to rescue people. He has been buried in a cave. He has jumped out of a helicopter into water.
My dad teaches me to play baseball. He goes to my ballet recitals. My dad tells me he loves me. My dad loves my mommy in heaven. I love my dad and he loves me.
Underneath the verse it read, "I love you Daddy!
“Do you like it Daddy? Daddy? Why are you crying?” tears formed in Rebecca’s eyes and Johnny hurried to reassure her.
“I love it Rebecca. You are my beautiful girl. You make me so happy sometimes the joy spills out in tears.”
Reassured, she replied, “Oh okay, Daddy.”
“Come get in bed beside me little monkey. Daddy needs his special girl beside him.”
Rebecca crawled in bed beside Johnny and watched him as he slowly ate the breakfast she brought him. He watched as her eyes grew heavy and soon he knew she was fast asleep. He set the tray on the bedside table and got up, carefully recovering his little angel.
Picking up the tray, he set the card back on the bedside table then took the tray back to the kitchen. Johnny set the flowers on the table and placed the tray on the counter. After placing the dishes in the dishwasher, he headed back to bed, crawling in beside Rebecca, remembering his many happy memories of fatherhood.
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Father's Day Stories