It was a date I had been looking forward to for some time.
The date was Saturday, Feb. 17. I had been asked by the local chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution to deliver the keynote address at their annual George Washington Day meeting. I was honored to have been asked, and really thought I had something of interest to offer the ladies in attendance. I put the date on my calendar, and was ready to go when I went to bed on Friday night.
Then Saturday morning happened. Around 10 a.m., I received a call from my son Josh in Minneapolis. He and his lovely bride Chelsea were expecting their first child in May—but Mother Nature apparently had a different timetable. When Josh called, he was in a heightened state of panic or agitation. He was talking wildly on the phone when he managed to finally say: “Chelsea is in labor. What do I do?”
It appeared that Grandpa and Dad Fitz all rolled into one and living 1500 miles away in Gonzales, Texas was going to have to help him deliver his first born. I had to help calm him down.
“Uh, son, get the bags and head straight to the hospital,” I said. “Call and let them know you are coming.” I think he heard what I said, but he was not listening.
“Dad, she is not due for two months so something else must be wrong,” he exclaimed.
“Relax son. She may in fact be having the baby a couple of months early,” I calmly reassured him. “Now get her to relax, pack the car, and get to the hospital as quickly and as safely as you can.”
He listened this time, but for the next two hours we kept a running text/telephone conversation going as he arrived at the hospital, his wife was checked in, and yes, all the preparations for the arrival of their first born continued.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch in Gonzales, Grandpa and Daddy Fitzwater had completely forgotten his role as publisher and as promised keynote speaker. Shortly after noon, the phone rang.
“Hi Terry, we are at GG’s waiting for you to come and speak—you are coming, right?” the concerned voice said on the other end of the line. I had completely forgotten and lost total track of time.
“Yes,” I stammered. “I am sorry. I will be there in 15 minutes.” I was totally embarrassed.
The rest is history. I arrived, made my heart-felt apologies, then gave my short speech.
I told them that my 8th Great Grandfather Thomas Fitzwater had come over on the Welcome with William Penn and helped found the City of Philadelphia and the great Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. His son Thomas Jr. built the first road out of the city and opened a limestone quarry just north of town. The bricks he made were used to build Independence Hall.
Thomas Jr.’s daughter Elizabeth married George Clymer. Clymer was one of only six men to sign both the Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution. When the British captured Philadelphia during the American Revolution and the rest of the Government fled, Clymer was one of only three signers to stay behind and take care of the matters of the evolving government.
I even went back to the thirteenth century, telling them of a distant relative named Sir Robert. He had a daughter history has called Maid Marian. Sir Robert was also one of the nobles who forced King John to sign the Magna Charta. As I told the ladies in attendance, our family has been ticking authority off for almost 1000 years, but somehow we go marching on. It got a good laugh.
The meeting ended, everyone appeared happy, and I was given a Come and Take It poster that I am going to put up in my office. After regaling the ladies about our family history, an hour later I could have added something else.
Welcome Theodore James Fitzwater. The next generation of Fitzwaters had finally arrived. All hail to little Theo.