Hers was a Prom Night baby, so she was in labor on a frigid February night. She was the daughter of a wealthy CEO, a bright girl with bright promise. Her parents, important members of the community, were embarrassed and agonized about their only daughter being pregnant. She had college and a career in her future, so the baby would be adopted out. Everything would return to normal. She could anticipate a successful future again. She was from a prominent family in town, after all.
He was from the wrong side of the tracks, a boy also bright, also with promise, but without means. Her parents called him a deadbeat. College was his goal, too, and he worked hard to save money for tuition and hoped for some scholarships to ease the way. He would be the first in his family to go to college.
Anguished and ashamed, he apologized over and over to her parents and constantly tried to talk to his sweetheart, but her parents were furious with him. They commanded the young man to stay away from their daughter. He was forbidden to talk with her, call her, or see her. They maintained watch to keep him out of her life. They could not stand the sight of him.
The young man arrived at the doctor’s office for his sweetheart’s checkups, but he was always banished outside and could only watch as she was piloted to and from the car by her parents. After one particular checkup, in the closing light of the winter day, the doctor was surprised to find the young man sitting on the cement stoop of the office, head in his hands. The doctor shifted his feet and hesitated, then invited the young man into the office. As they sat down, the doctor reassured him that mother and baby were in good health and everything looked positive. While labor could be challenging, she was a strong young woman who would handle the challenge well.
The doctor asked the young man how he felt about the baby being put up for adoption. At this question, the young man began to weep. He told the doctor he couldn’t imagine life without his sweetheart. He had hoped to marry her, so they could go on to college and make a life together, but her parents had made it clear that was out of the question. He had tried to make things right, but he could not change their minds. The doctor listened intently.
“Do you love her?” he asked.
“Love her?” the young man said. “I’d die for her.”
She called the young man when she felt labor begin, before she awakened her parents in the wee hours of the night to take her to the hospital. He walked to the hospital in the bitter-cold February night, the eve of St. Valentine’s feast day, but he was banned from setting foot inside. Her parents had alerted security. But the doctor had averted security. He asked a sympathetic nurse to sit the young man down in one of the emergency rooms to wait.
After a beautiful baby girl arrived and was settled in the nursery, the doctor suggested the new mom’s tired parents go home for some rest. They left, relieved that everything was over and their daughter soon would be free of any ties to the deadbeat. The doctor brought the infant to her young mother and asked the nurse to send the new father to the birthing unit. Then he closed the door softly on the new family and left the young couple to experience the joy and wonder of their new daughter in peaceful solitude.
Flowers from the young man arrived in her hospital room the next day. Her parents angrily threw them in the trash, incensed that he had the gall to try to maintain contact with her. The doctor entered the room to this angry scene, sighed, and asked the parents to have a seat. The new mother stared at the doctor, sensing what was going to happen. Frozen with hope, she couldn’t move.
“What happened to your daughter was not what you wanted for her,” the doctor began, “but why don’t we look at things another way. Look at how loyal the young man has been to her all this time, and how anguished he has been without her.
“He loves her,” the doctor continued. “There’s no question, he loves her. Why not let them get married?”
Stunned, the parents stared at him. The father sputtered a loud objection, but the mother silenced him with an icy glare. “It’s time we talk about this,” she said.
Fast forward to summer, after graduation. The young couple married and set out together for college. With her parents’ blessing and support, they finished school and pursued careers. Three more children arrived. Her parents couldn’t get enough of their precious grandchildren and treasured their visits. They learned to rely on their son-in-law, for he was as faithful to them as he was to his wife.
The years passed.
And the parents aged.
Grandpa struggled with a weak heart, and Grandma had trouble getting around. The daughter called a family meeting to discuss what to do with their parents.
“A nursing home is the best idea,” the older son said. “I just don’t have any extra time.”
“You’re right,” the other son said, “but what about the money?”
Grandpa and Grandma sat silent, dreading the verdict.
Their son-in-law stood up.
“I’ve got a better idea,” he said.
That year he built a room onto their house for her parents.