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Time flies when having fun

July 21, 1985…..it was the wee hours of the morning when someone staffing the newborn nursery at Roanoke-Chowan Hospital pulled back the curtain and I fell in love.

There she was….screaming at the top of her tiny lungs while a nurse was changing her diaper. My heart pounded; my eyes filled with tears of happiness. I was overjoyed with the feeling of fatherhood for what remains as the first and only time in my 62 years on this earth.

Back then there wasn’t a test that could determine the gender of a child. As a man, I dreamed of having a son…one I could teach to hunt and fish; how to throw a curveball; and how to crawl under a car and change the oil. As a father, all I really wanted was a healthy baby. That wish was granted with the birth of Danielle Rae Bryant.

Today (Tuesday, July 21, 2015) marks 30 years since I nervously paced the floor of R-CH, anxiously awaiting the birth of my child. Believe me when I say there have been numerous other anxious moments that have followed.

It’s ironic that just last week I covered the 50th anniversary celebration of Ahoskie physician Dr. Charles Sawyer. He was Deborah’s doctor during the time she was pregnant with Danielle. I reminded Dr. Sawyer of that last week….telling him the story of Deborah’s long and hard labor, one which eventually got to a point where Dr. Sawyer made the call around 12 midnight to have Danielle born by C-Section. But just before Deborah was being wheeled into the operating room, Dr. Sawyer flipped the palm of her left hand to face him and he used a marker to draw the symbol of a female and two numbers: 7-11. He, of course, was predicting the gender of the child and its birth weight. He was correct with the gender, and just slightly off on the weight (7 pounds, 5 ounces).

From walking my baby down the hall of our home – all while singing the same lullaby (“Kentucky Babe”) that my mom sang to me – in an effort to get her to sleep; to reading her favorite book (“Night, Night, Streetlight”); to witnessing her first words and first steps; to feeling your heart break when she cried the first day she attended school; to experiencing sheer delight as she matured and mastered new things….there are way too many highs and lows of being a parent than there is room to mention them all in this column.

But the thing I admire the most about my only child is the way she treats others in her life. Danielle is blessed with a warm and open heart. Even as a child she would rally to the side of others in need, a trait she continues as an adult. Over the years I’ve proudly witnessed first-hand and also listened to others sing Danielle’s praises for being such a good friend. She never forgets a special anniversary, or a birthday, or Christmas when it comes to her small army of friends….and that big heart of hers has spread loads of cheer upon the children of her friends.

As the father of a daughter, I did not look forward to the day when she started dating. To be honest there were some young men in her life that, at the time, I just wished would go away. Luckily she finally found the man she was seeking, and you could see it in her eyes and hear it in her voice.

Two years have passed since she and Brandon Harrell tied the knot. Within that short passage of time our family has grown to now include Brody Ray Harrell (the fourth generation of Bryant blood to carry the name Ray or a variation thereof). If you think there’s nothing that can top watching your own child come into this world, just wait until your flesh and blood gives life of her own.

Wow….30 years have blown by. It makes you scratch your head in amazement and wonder where the time went. One minute I’m accompanying my six-year-old through the streets of Disney World; the next we’re arm-in-arm as we walk down the aisle at Colerain Baptist Church as I give her away on her wedding day; and the next I’m holding my grandson.

Happy Birthday, Danielle….the roller coaster ride continues after 30 years and I’m still not ready for it to stop just yet.

Cal Bryant is Editor of Roanoke-Chowan Publications. He can be contacted at cal.bryant@r-cnews.com or 252-332-7207.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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