Good day, my bookish peeps. As I’ve often said in the past, I’m an eclectic reader. I enjoy reading nonfiction and fiction, as well as short stories, essays, graphic novels, novels, etc. If it’s an interesting read, then chances are I’m going to read it. This is just one of the reasons why I’m pleased to welcome today’s guest, Bill Fentress, author of The Yellow Honeysuckle is the Sweetest, a collection of of 14 short stories about family and more. Mr. Fentress will be piquing our interest a bit with his essay “My Best Day Ever.” I sincerely hope you’ll enjoy it, grab a copy of The Yellow Honeysuckle is the Sweetest, and follow this blog tour to learn more about this book and author. Thank you, Mr. Fentress, for joining us today and a special thank you for sharing this essay.
My Best Day Ever
by Bill Fentress
I suppose one of my identifiers now is “author.” So, perhaps this post should revolve around my best day ever as a writer…or perhaps as an author? I thoroughly enjoy writing, especially when I am on a roll. But my best day ever had nothing to do with writing. It was June 19, 2003.
That day started in the spring of 2002 when my wife, Susan, and I met with doctors in Chapel Hill, NC. After trying to have a baby with no success, we had been referred to those doctors by Susan’s OB-GYN. It had been determined that our best bet was to find out if we were candidates for in-vitro. I can still remember my discussion with Susan in her office the day we got the last of the initial tests back from her local doctor. She worked on the floor just below me in the same office building. We had been expecting tests results that day and they had indeed been delivered to her over the phone. “Well, what did the doctor say?” I asked, closing her office door behind me, anticipating there to be some fertility problem with her that we would just have to workaround. “Actually, there is an issue with you, baby,” she relayed, with a regretful glance up from her desk. I will never forget that surprised, stunned, sickening feeling that engulfed me as I looked into her hopeful eyes. Me? I thought. “What is the problem?” I asked – still reeling. She continued to explain our issue and told me that our best bet, according to the local doctor, was to visit Chapel Hill and talk to their specialists.
The next week, we drove to Chapel Hill and met with one of their top fertility doctors and his assistant. He was very informative and encouraging – frank, but supportive. We spent roughly an hour and a half in the meeting, sitting across a conference table from him. The entire time, my banker soul was wanting to know the bottom line…the odds…will the deal work? “I feel really good about your chances,” he told us, as he leaned forward over the table, his relaxed mannerisms soothing our internal nervousness.
“Doctor,” I said. “I deal in loans every day, and percentages. Exactly, what does ‘good chances’ mean?” In my cash flow and debt service-warped mind, I was thinking…It’s got to be 93-100%…surely. “Oh, your odds are very good with this particular procedure. I would say approximately 35%.” That news hit me and Susan worse than the original news regarding our situation. I remember feeling stunned, like I had just been in a car accident. Not hurt…just shocked by what I had heard. I regrouped. “Thirty-five percent? Why so low?” Yep, I had to ask. “Well, what you need to understand is this procedure just gets you up to nature’s normal percentages that guide whether anyone gets pregnant. And typically, there is only about a 35% chance you will get pregnant at any given time. But I feel your chances are excellent for success. Take all the time you need to think about it. Here are our numbers. Call and ask for me when you are ready to talk further. I am available at any time. I will do anything to help.”
I don’t remember saying goodbye. I don’t remember walking out the door. I don’t remember hitting the elevator button or riding down to the lobby. I was still shocked by the car accident around that conference table. I don’t recall anything until we got to the walkway heading toward the parking deck just across Manning Drive from UNC-Chapel Hill Hospital. I looked over at my equally stunned, but stalwart bride. “What do you think?” I ventured first, as we walked in step heading toward our car. The air in my college town did not feel as light as it had 20 years earlier, or even 2 hours before the conclusion of our consultation. “I’m not sure we really have a choice,” Susan replied. She looked over at me, wanting my opinion, and hoping I felt the same. We locked eyes and I knew then we would go for it. “I agree. If we want a child, let’s roll with it.” That was it. No looking back. Our heads were down, and we were set, like plow mules turning into the next row. And we continued a vigil that had started months earlier…and would continue months later. We prayed together every night…asking God to give us the gift of a child.
We started in-vitro in September 2002. It consisted of regimented shots leading up to the all-important conception procedure. Then we spent an agonizing 2 weeks waiting to take the most important test of our lives. I will never forget a nurse friend of ours telling us we did not have to wait until Friday for the blood test. She said a pregnancy test on Wednesday would let us know…if we wanted to know. We discussed it and could not wait any longer. Susan put the strip on the kitchen table and took a seat in her chair in the den. We both prayed…and sat there…every emotion in our bodies at a precipice. After the prescribed time, I looked at her and she nodded. I’ve had many important walks in my life: down the aisle (twice), graduations, getting up to speak in front of hundreds, and walking over to the first pretty girl out of my league that I asked to dance, in front of my buddies. None were as nervous as that 30-foot walk to the kitchen. I looked down at the strip. I picked it up, blinked, and re-blinked.
“How dark do the lines have to be?” I asked. “It doesn’t matter. If there are 2 lines, I’m pregnant,” came Susan’s hidden plea. I looked again…and blinked again. There they were…one was faint…but there were two lines – one bolder than the other. “Well, I see 2 lines!”
Susan ran into the kitchen screaming the whole way. She grabbed the strip and looked at me with the happiest tears I’ve ever seen. We hugged for a long time. That is a hug everybody should have right there. We just about wore out that two-line strip, picking it up and looking at it until late into the night…only beginning to anticipate our dreams. I’ve not cried and smiled simultaneously many times in my life…that was one night I did.
Sarah Elizabeth was one of eight eggs that were fertilized, and one of 4 that were implanted. “You were one of eight,” we tell her. And she was born June 19, 2003. The best day of my life. By far. ♦
The Yellow Honeysuckle is the Sweetest
by Bill Fentress
March 14 – April 8, 2022 Virtual Book Tour
THE YELLOW HONEYSUCKLE IS THE SWEETEST is a salute by the author to a lifetime of outdoor experiences in eastern North Carolina and beyond. It encompasses 14 true short stories about family, friendships, and the emotions involved in hunting, fishing, and other outdoor-related topics. It is not a how-to book, nor just a compilation of hunting and fishing stories; it describes how simple family and personal interactions, with the outdoor sports and unmatched natural beauty as a backdrop, can result in treasured memories like perhaps no other pursuits.
If you hunt and fish, or grew up enjoying histories of family traditions and friendships revolving around the outdoors – whether it be in North Carolina, or elsewhere – THE YELLOW HONEYSUCKLE IS THE SWEETEST is for you.
Genre: Sports, (as in Hunting and Fishing), Nature, Family, Memoir
Published by: Indie
Publication Date: February 3, 2022
Number of Pages: 257
Purchase Links: Amazon | Goodreads
Here’s a word from our author:
Bill Fentress is a retired banker and current Finance Officer in eastern North Carolina. A current resident of New Bern, NC, Bill grew up in Pamlico County, North Carolina, where many of his hunting and fishing experiences in The Yellow Honeysuckle is the Sweetest take place. He has enjoyed nature’s beauty and God’s gifts of family and the outdoors throughout his lifetime, in North Carolina and elsewhere.
Learn More About Bill Online:
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One thought on “Guest Author: Bill Fentress – THE YELLOW HONEYSUCKLE IS THE SWEETEST”
Oh my gosh! This is the sweetest guest post I think I have ever read!
Thanks so much for the inspiration and letting us share in your story! 🙂
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