A flight to remember on Ashley Grace Taylor's birthday

Today is my daughter's 11th birthday. Eleven years ago yesterday I was in Oklahoma planning to attend my grandmother's funeral. Grandma Grace Taylor had died on Sunday morning, November 21, 1993.

Jill had gone back to Houston, where we lived at the time, because she was great with child.

I never thought I might miss the birth . . . but that Sunday night she called and said her water had broken and she and her parents and sister were heading to the hospital. I panicked. I couldn't think. My family went into action. Toby called for flights and drove me to Tulsa. He had me on a plane to Houston within an hour.

On that Southwest flight I actually requested to the flight attendant that she ask the pilot if he could fly the plane as fast as he could. I said that! She said she'd see what she could do. The flight seemed to take hours, and I made my first-ever airphone call. Jill was in the hospital room waiting for the doctor but things were progressing swiftly. My heart was pounding in my chest.

I arrived at Houston-Hobby and looked for my ride, a friend of the family they'd sent to pick me up. I must have walked right past him, never saw him, and walked straight to a taxi. I didn't have time to waste. The taxi was nearly $40 from the airport to hospital in Nassau Bay, Texas . . . but well worth it. I was at the hospital. But was I on time?

I rushed into the room and literally within minutes of my arrival it was time to push. Jill had been wanting to for quite some time but holding back for me to arrive the best she could. I'll spare you the rest of the details. Just after midnight, November 22, Ashley Grace Taylor was born. We had planned on another middle name but decided to name her after her great grandmother, Grace Taylor, who had died less than 24 hours earlier.

Four months later, we took Ashley to Uganda, where she spent the first seven years of her life. Sometimes on her birthdays we miss Uganda, because we would have parties outside on the lawn--in warm November weather (warm all year round!).

GeneralGreg Taylor