Tail of the Weak is a series of insights and musical memories from the mind of Uncle Dave Griffin, singer/songwriter and founder of the Annual Gram Parsons Guitar Pull and Tribute Festival, from Waycross, Georgia.
Spent the New Year in the van – 40 father had no plan
Held the boy child in my hand – love I've come to understand
– “High I Was” by Uncle Dave Griffin
“You have a very sick lady in there. We're doing what we can to stabilize her” were the words coming out of the mouth of the heart specialist at Baptist Medical Center in Jacksonville, Florida on July 6, 1993. They were referring to my wife, Lynne, who was six months pregnant, carrying the baby boy we planned on naming Ingram Connor Griffin.
She came to the post office stamp counter, where I was busy selling stamps and stood in line, finally making it to my window, beaming with the news, “You're gonna have a son!” I suppose there's not a richer blessing to a man's ears than those words. Lineage and legacy intact—check.
We had lunch that afternoon at the diner inside Strickland's Pharmacy in Waycross, Georgia, home of THE finest grilled cheeseburger in the history of grilled cheeseburgers. We sat at our table discussing the all-important baby name. Lynne spoke first, “I think we should call him David Edward Griffin, Junior.” I wouldn't want to wish that on anybody.
There was always a leaning, among the boys I grew up with—the Doghillers—that as we aged, married, and fathered children, they would be named in honor of our musical heroes. Brother Gary was the oldest Doghiller and the first to procreate, naming his firstborn David Gram Griffin, in honor of Gram Parsons. So, Gram was off the table.
Being a fan of Parsons's music, I told my wife that I had always dreamed of naming my son after the musician who spent the first 12 years of his life in Waycross, Georgia with the name, Ingram Cecil Connor III. She fell in with me; thus, Ingram Connor would soon be a part of our family.
All was well, until Lynne's obstetrician casually dismissed her claims that something was not right. She was experiencing swelling of her feet and ankles. A simple chore like getting dressed in the morning left her exhausted and out of breath. Her blood pressure was higher than normal. The genius baby doctor said, “Pregnant women have high blood pressure. It's not uncommon. Go home and push back from the table.”
The Fourth of July weekend was upon us and we were invited to a cookout at the home of Deb Rouse, a registered nurse at our local hospital. Deb checked Lynne's blood pressure and suggested that she see her obstetrician immediately following the holiday. That was the evening of July 3.
The next morning I woke and found my wife sitting, asleep on the couch, with a pillow propped behind her, unable to lay flat without choking. I called our friend Deb, she came and took another BP reading, and told us to go to the emergency room immediately.
The good doctor never bothered to check in on her until early Tuesday morning, July 6. Had it not been for Dr. Earl Martin, an off-duty physician and friend of the family, this story would have turned out much differently. He took one look at the mother-to-be and ordered her to be ambulanced to Baptist Medical Center, where she was placed in the neonatal wing of the hospital.
The dire news that Lynne's mother and I received that Tuesday evening was a hard punch to the stomach. She was diagnosed with toxemia and congestive heart failure, as the fluids had climbed from her ankles and were filling her lungs. My mother-in-law and I began to call on family and in a matter of hours, a prayer chain had been established, stretching from North Georgia to South Florida.
The team of doctors, including heart and pediatric specialists, were working hand-in-hand attempting to stabilize her, emphasizing that there was only a small window of opportunity to safely remove our son. It was in God's hands.
Sometime during the wee morning hours of July 7, Lynne's vital signs began to improve. She told me later of the vision she had, while under medication, of seeing a happy, laughing two-year-old Connor, wearing a yellow tee-shirt, sporting blue and white Nike tennis shoes, and rolling a ball in our front yard. Says Lynne, “From that moment on, I knew everything would be alright.”
The heart specialists finally gave their go-ahead for a cesarean operation that Wednesday afternoon, and miraculously, Ingram Connor Griffin came into the world weighing a mere two pounds. He remained in the neonatal intensive care unit for 16 weeks until we finally brought him home on October 26.
Connor grew up surrounded by love and music; and, throughout his life, he has borne out the true nature of both. He's a better Christian and a better drummer than I ever was or will be. He is pursuing his Major in English and Minor in Drama at the University of Georgia, working several jobs, playing in three bands, writing original songs, and still finds the time to talk to his mama on the phone.
Today, we celebrate his 24th birthday and wish him all the love and blessings this life has to offer. Speaking of life—we all know how hard it can be—but sometimes just bein' born is quite a struggle in itself.
20th Annual Gram Parsons Guitar Pull and Tribute Festival
Advance Weekend Passes:
REFERENCES Memories straight from the mind of Uncle Dave Griffin