It seemed like all of Habersham County came to the hospital to see Barry. Friends, neighbors, business associates, former schoolteachers, even the good Preacher Stevens and his wife dropped by. My mother-in-law had aged when Barry went into a coma; now that he was on the road to full recovery, she had a new lease on life. She brought fritters from home - corn fritters, apple fritters, zucchini fritters and her special, fresh raspberry fritters for "my Barry boy."
She even brought me a pecan pie that I admit I was loath to share and when she saw me hesitate to cut it, she laughed. "Brung 'nuff fer everybody." And she brought out several more pies so the staff taking care of Barry could enjoy the sweet treat.
A body doesn't stay comatose for eight long weeks and then just get up and go about living as if nothing ever happened. Barry's bones had healed while he had been unconscious but now that he was awake and alert, he still needed help standing. Walking was something else he was going to have to learn all over again. He had physical therapy every day and other medical personnel came to evaluate his progress. Most were surprised his speech was so clear and that he hadn't suffered any memory loss. I was grateful for every small step forward on the road back to our lives. It was slow going and sometimes frustrating, but I was at his side, thankful for every one of those small steps.
Three weeks after he woke, the doctors said he could go home and when I saw him standing in his hospital room, dressed like nothing had ever happened, my eyes immediately filled and overflowed.
"Come here, Hope," he said softly, his teasing grin in place and his arms open wide. "Mr. Adams needs his sweet Yankee gal."
"That's what you've been callin me, isn't it? Callin me Mr. Adams when I was out of it? And later, when I was too weak to take you over my knee and warm that sweet backside of yours?"
"Yes," I laughed softly. "I've been callin you by your father's name, hoping to get a rise out of you."
"Won't be too much longer before you get that rise out of me," he promised with a wicked grin. "But first, I'm gonna burn that lil butt of yours. Soon's we get home and settled again, you're gonna regret that Mr. Adams business."
"Would you spank the mother of your unborn child?"
"My unborn...? Hope!"
"Just passed the three-month mark," I announced, looking up at him and loving the sweet surprise on his face. "The first trimester is over. Looks like we're going to have a baby."
"A baby," he said solemnly, his hand cupping the slight swell of my belly. "Does my mama know?"
"If she does, she hasn't said anything. I wanted you to know first."
Still holding me close, he nodded as he bent his head to mine. "I do love you, Hope Adams and more so every day."
"Even though I'm a Yankee?"
"Especially 'cause you're a Yankee," he smiled.
Barry gained his strength back a little each day and it wasn't too much longer before he was working a few hours here and there. By the time the holidays rolled around several months later, he was his old self and he had delivered on those promises. Slowly but surely, our lives had returned to normal - the fun spankings and the loving were as good as ever and more precious when we realized what we almost lost.
My mother-in-law was a different person now that Barry had recovered and the joy on her face that she would soon have a grandbaby to love and spoil was the icing on the cake. She was happier than I had ever seen her. She fussed over both of us and it was a good feeling to be on warm terms with her. She went out of her way to make meals she knew I liked and I could always count on her for a fresh pecan pie.
I knew she was aware that Barry spanked me - I don't know how she knew but she did - and I suspected that maybe, the senior Mr. Adams had spanked her, too. Of course, I never asked but she was so full of surprises these days, anything was possible.
"Now ya gotta be extry careful with Hope," she told Barry one afternoon as we were leaving her house. "Girls t'day ain't as strong as they was in my day, ya know. Don't ya be too rough on her, son. She be carryin my granbaby an I don't want her frettin an such if'n ya git my drift."
"I won't hurt her, mama," Barry smiled. "Just gonna remind her who wears the pants in this family."
"Mr. Adams!" I feigned shock.
"I'm gonna Mr. Adams that lil butt of yours," he promised with a wink and when we got home, he gently lowered me over his lap and spanked me so sweetly. And his kisses - still so full of magic that I couldn't get enough, and when I told him I hungered for more, he filled me again and again. After all that loving, when I should have been sated and exhausted, all I could think about was calling him Mr. Adams again so we could start over.
"You sure you want to know if the baby's a boy or a girl?" I asked as he accompanied me to the doctor and an appointment for an ultra-sound.
"My mama says she's gonna have a grandson," he told me as he helped me into a hospital gown. "She's never been wrong about guessing whether a baby's gonna be a boy or a girl, you know. She's got my old cradle all polished and ready and she even took my rocking horse down from the attic. But before she drags all my baby things out of the trunk and washes them, I think we need to get another opinion."
"Have you decided on a name?" the doctor asked as he adjusted the dials on the ultra-sound machine.
"Faith if it's a girl," my husband said as he stood at my side and rubbed my full round belly. "Faith for my Hope. Faith for the way she willed me to live again."
"And if it's a boy?" the doctor smiled.
"Barry for my father, and for me, of course. He'd be the third Barry Adams in Habersham County. 'Course, if my Hope has her way," he winked at me as he rubbed the back of my hand with his thumb. "She'll probably call him her lil Mr. Adams."