Maria and Joe’s Christmas presents

By PAT WATSON

Maria and her husband, Joe, were trying to stay ahead of a snowstorm while racing from Toronto to Ottawa Airport on Christmas Eve to pick up Maria’s father, Ol’ Joe, who was flying in from Trinidad when his flight was diverted because of the impending storm. But halfway there, Maria – eight months pregnant – went into labour.

Just as Joe slowed down to call 9-1-1, there came a siren whirring and lights flashing from behind them. An emergency medical vehicle cruised up beside their minivan as Joe pulled over. Three people jumped out and hurried over to Maria and Joe.

One woman in uniform was the first to speak.

“Evening folks. What seems to be the problem?”

Joe was stunned.

“Where did you people come from so quickly? Look, my wife has gone into labour early.”

The woman’s voice was very calm as she said: “Don’t worry, Joe. We’re paramedics. Don’t worry, Maria, we’re going to help you out.”

Seeing the puzzled look on Joe’s face, she said: “Your name is on your cap, Joe, unless that’s someone else’s cap.”

The woman pointed to her name badge, which read: Angela Gabriel. “Just call me Gabriel, everyone does. The guy coming up is Garfield Shepherd, and the one bringing the stretcher, that’s Trey Wiseman. We were just going off duty when we saw your flashers.”

Joe was puzzled because he didn’t remember putting on the emergency flashing lights. But it didn’t matter because he knew it was a godsend that the three appeared.

“My wife wasn’t due until next month but we are on our way to Ottawa and suddenly…”

Maria, trying her best to pace her breath, released another yell.

“We’re nowhere near a hospital,” Gabriel announced. “But we’re gonna take you up the road to a nearby inn. As it happens, there’s a doctor there hosting a Christmas party. We were on our way there, and boy is he gonna be surprised. This is the best we can do because we just don’t know when you’re gonna give birth at this point. And you’re not gonna believe this but his name is Dr. Klaus.”

Despite her discomfort, Maria was still thinking about her father.

“Papa will land in Ottawa and not know that we’re coming to get him.”

But Joe tried to calm her.

“Maria as soon as he gets there you know he will phone home and Gran’ B will tell him we’re on our way.”

“But, Joe, we are not on our way. At this rate we won’t be on our way one bit.”

Moments later the EMS vehicle pulled into the driveway of the Starlight Inn. As the sounds of “Silent Night” drifted from the lobby, Dr. Klaus rushed to Maria’s side to reassure her. “You’re going to be just fine, Maria. Wiseman tells me you’re a nurse. He says you’ve already had two children, so I’m sure you know how to just keep pacing your breathing.

“Yes, I give a Christmas Eve party here every year for my staff and they’re always special but this is the first year we’ve had a Christmas Eve birth. Or, what’s it to be Maria, will you be presenting Joe with a Christmas baby?”

A few hours later, in fact, a minute after midnight, the sound of soft wailing filled the Starlight Inn’s best suite as Dr. Klaus presented Maria with a baby boy.

Joe was on the phone calling Gran B with the news when Dr. Klaus gave out a whoop. Another tiny baby made its appearance. This time, a baby girl. No one was more shocked than Maria, except Joe, who was so overcome that his knees gave way momentarily.

Some time later, in the light of Christmas morning, Maria, cradling her precious new bundles, asked for the three paramedics. She told Dr. Klaus that is was pure blessed timing that the three were on their way to his Christmas party.

“But,” said the doctor, “that’s a bit of a surprise to me since I’ve never seen those three before. I only invited my staff to this party.”

Just then there was a knock on the hotel room door. It wasn’t the paramedics, it was Ol’ Joe.

Maria and Joe were completely taken aback.

“But, Papa, how on earth did you get here?”

For moments on end Ol’ Joe could not say a word, for he just kept looking at the babies. Finally he spoke: “Maria, three people in some kind of an emergency vehicle come an’ get me at the airport. Say dey name Gabriel, Shepherd and Wiseman. They get me outta Ottawa in no time at all, and drop mih off here an’ just disappear. Anyway, they say yuh had yuh babies. Babies! Maria, I caan believe.”

But Papa, look at you! You’re talking so well and no cane! I can’t believe my eyes.”

“Girl, mih self caan believe. I don’t understan’ how these guys jus’ show up so and jus’ disappear so. Ah next t’ing, Wiseman give me two little gift box for the babies, akse me to gi’ them to yuh.”

Joe couldn’t stop shaking his head in wonder. “Listen, Ol’ Joe, I have the boys on speakerphone. Matthew, Marcus, can you hear Gran’pa Joe? The boys as well as Gran’ B shouted their hellos.

“Oh, my boys. Ah caan hardly wait to see the two ah yuh. By the way, you two name the babies yet? Wha’ yuh name them?”

Maria and Joe smiled at each other, then Maria said, “Well Papa, you see that it’s Christmas Day and since we named our first two Matthew and Marcus, we decided to name the babies Luke and Joan.”

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