It was late afternoon before Gwen was awake and the hospital decided the baby was perfectly healthy and ready to meet his family. Dobie and Zelda followed their son-in-law into their daughter's room, while Georgie and his family followed close behind. The room was small, but everyone managed to crowd in. Dobie was surprised that even with his traumatic birth that the hospital didn't seem to mind so many people being around the baby, but times had changed since his own children had been born and their grandparents had been forced to look at them through the viewing window in the nursery.
Zelda hugged her daughter, "Sweetheart, how are you feeling?" she asked as she fluffed her daughter's pillow and brushed her hair out of her face.
"I'm okay…a little sore," Gwen smiled. "But my blood pressure is normal. The doctor wants to monitor me for a while, but I can go home in a week."
"Where's the baby?" Gracie asked. She was excited to see her new cousin.
"They're checking him out in the NICU," Jack explained. "They want to check him every few hours just to make sure his oxygen levels are normal, but so far he's been fine. They'll bring him back in a minute."
Chatsy was holding her son who at five months weighed almost sixteen pounds. "Gwen, I can't believe he's only five pounds. He must be so small."
"He is," Gwen smiled, "But he's perfect." She looked at her mother, "I never knew I could love someone so much."
"I know," Zelda smiled. "It's a good feeling."
The door squeaked open and the nurse wheeled in the isolette and put it beside Gwen's bed. She smiled at the family, but left them all alone. Jack picked up his son and kissed him before handing him to his wife. Everyone stared as Gwen held the tiny baby, his dark curly hair was the only thing visible beneath is blue blanket. Gwen pulled back the blanket from her son's face and smiled, "Here he is…" she whispered. "What do you think?"
"Aunt Gwen," Greta said softly. "He's so cute. He's teeny."
Dobie smiled watching his daughter cradle his new grandson, "He's perfect Princess. Absolutely perfect."
"I can't believe I'm an uncle," Georgie said and he winked playfully at his sister. "It's about time."
Gwen laughed, "If I had known how much I'd love him, I would have done this a long time ago."
"No…now is perfect," Zelda smiled and touched her grandson's little pink fingers. "This was the right time for you to become a mom."
"You can hold him," Gwen handed the baby to her mother and Zelda held the baby boy close to her and walked over so her husband could see him better.. "Can you bring his blanket…when you come back tomorrow?"
"Of course," Zelda smiled at her grandson. "I should have brought it tonight."
"It's okay…tomorrow is soon enough," Gwen took her husband's hand and watched as her family admired her son.
"What's his name?" Georgie asked. "Mom's been dying to know."
"Well," Gwen explained. "I figured he's a part of all of us…everyone in this room. I know I spent an awful lot of time away from home, not really being the daughter, sister, or aunt all of you deserved. But now that the baby's here…I just want us all to be a family again…"
"We've always been a family," Dobie hugged his daughter. "Even if you were clear across the country. We love you…we always have."
"I know that Daddy," Gwen nodded. "But, I just felt like I pushed you all away while I tried to live my own life, and I know now that I was wrong. I needed you…all of you. And my baby needs you. He needs his family. And I wanted to honor all of you…all of us…with his name," She looked at her husband and he smiled at her and put his hand on her shoulder. "His name is Gillis John Brenner," she smiled. "We're going to call him Gil."
"Awe…Gil is a cute name," Gracie smiled.
"Yeah…I like it," Greta agreed.
"We thought John for Jack's family and Gillis for ours," Gwen explained.
Zelda smiled at her grandson, "Do you like your name, Gil?" she asked him and he cooed at her. She looked at her daughter and smiled, "He seems happy with it."
"What do you think, Daddy?" Gwen asked, hoping for her father's approval.
"I think your grandpa would be so proud to have his great-grandson carry on the Gillis name," he kissed his daughter on the cheek. "And, I think you're going to be a great mom. Gil is lucky to have you."
Later that night Dobie and Zelda walked into their house. After the hustle and bustle of the hospital, the house seemed dark and still. They both sat on the living room sofa and said nothing, just enjoying the silence. After a while, Dobie turned to his wife and sighed, "It's been a long day."
"A very long day," Zelda agreed. "Dobie…"' she let her tears fall, "I was scared to death. I was so sure she wasn't going to make it…that the baby wasn't going to make it…"
"I know honey," he hugged her close and kissed her. "But they're both okay."
Zelda nodded, "Gil is just the tiniest baby I think I've ever seen."
"He'll grow, faster than we want him to probably," Dobie said truthfully. "Why do you think she named him Gillis? Do you really think she felt that isolated from the family? Because if she did…I feel like a terrible father."
"I think Gwen's always wanted to be isolated," Zelda admitted. "She loves us, but she always wanted more…more than she could get here…like there was something better out there…"
"I always thought she took after you," Dobie said honestly. "But I think in a lot of ways…she's just like me."
Zelda nodded, "I've been telling you that since the day she was born." She smiled, "But having this baby…it's made her realize how much her family means to her. How much we love her. I think that's why she named the baby Gillis. It was her way of saying 'I love you.' Not just to us, but to Georgie and Chatsy and the kids, and even to little Gil."
"I guess you're right," Dobie smiled. "He is cute…isn't he? But he doesn't really look like a Gillis. He looks like Jack..."
"I don't know," Zelda disagreed. "I think he has that weak chin, the one you gave our daughter…" she laughed.
"My father's chin," Dobie laughed. Then he kissed his wife, "I guess Gillis is the perfect name for him."
Zelda smiled, "I guess so." She stood up, "I'm hungry…let's get a snack from the kitchen." Dobie followed his wife into the kitchen where they had spent more days and night than he could even remember. Zelda pulled sandwich fixings from the refrigerator, "Remember when the appliances in here were all green?" she asked.
"That was a long time ago," Dobie answered. "What made you think about that?"
"Gwen mentioned it a while back," Zelda made the sandwiches and then sat at the table. "It doesn't feel like it was so long ago."
"I know," Dobie agreed. "Seems like nowadays nothing ever feels like it was as long ago as it really was." He rolled his eyes, "That probably didn't even make sense."
Zelda laughed, "It made perfect sense to me." She leaned across the table and kissed her husband, "I'm grateful for everything we've been through together…because even with all the problems we've had, my life has still been absolutely amazing."
"Mine too," Dobie kissed her again and smiled. "I know I've made mistakes…"
"So have I," Zelda interrupted him.
"I never should have left you," he said sadly.
"I shouldn't have let you go," she sighed.
"I love you," he whispered.
"I know that," Zelda kissed him once more. She smiled, "I have always loved you."
Dobie nodded, "Let's go to bed…we need to get up early if we want to see Gwen and the baby. Didn't you promise Georgie you'd babysit for him and Chatsy tomorrow afternoon?"
Zelda nodded, "I'm beginning to think retirement is harder than working. We're going to be busier now with all our grandkids than we ever were running the store. We'll barely have two seconds alone."
"Well," Dobie put his arms around her, "We're alone now."
Zelda nodded, "Let's go to bed," she agreed, and they walked hand-in-hand up the stairs.