Linda Taggatz & Melissa Dillard
Kel was sitting in his office catching up on some paperwork. His eyes wandered to a picture of himself and Annie. He smiled. He couldn’t believe he and Annie were about to celebrate their 5th wedding anniversary. He never dreamed they’d still be together now.
Two weeks earlier, Annie had her yearly checkup. She had been declared completely cancer free. When Annie asked if she could have children, the answer was no, because the treatments had probably made that impossible. They had started discussing the idea of adopting a child.
Kel never regretted marrying Annie. He knew he would’ve been sorry if he had let her get away. She did wonders for him. He was happier now than he’d ever been. Annie loved him, he didn’t know why, but that didn’t matter. What mattered was that they were very much in love with each other. He thanked God for her every day.
They had rushed the wedding because Kel was afraid that Annie didn’t have much time left, and he wanted to spend every minute he could with her. He was happy that things turned out like they did. They were making plans to take a vacation. They wanted to get away from everything for a while. After what they’d been through, they felt they really deserved it.
Annie walked into his office. “Where are we going?” She asked curiously.
“I don’t know.” Kel replied. “Where would you like to go?”
Annie thought it over for a minute. “San Francisco.” She replied.
“You’ve got it.”
“Kel, I’ve been thinking about renewing our wedding vows.”
Kel looked at her and said, “I’ve been thinking about that too.”
“I’d like to do it in style. Have a big church wedding. Invite you dad and his wife. The gang from the hospital, and the guys from 51’s “A” shift. I’ve really enjoyed getting to know Johnny, Roy, Joanne and their kids. I know how much they all mean to you. I’ll ask my friends from Brackettville city hall and the ones from here.” Annie said enthusiastically.
“Okay.” Kel replied with a gleam in his eyes. “We’ll plan it while we’re in San Francisco this weekend. How about setting the renewal date for the day we met almost seven years ago? That’ll be in six weeks. Think you can get everything done in that amount of time?” He said mischievously.
Annie looked at him. She knew he had something up his sleeve. “I bet that gleam says it all. You’ve already set plans in motion.” She said laughingly.
“You bet!” He said with a grin. “I’ve been on the phone.”
“What do you have in mind?”
“I’ve contacted Reverend Callahan. He’s agreed to conduct the second ceremony. The ranch staff said they’d help by setting up the reception. Tim said they’d slow roast a steer for the occasion.”
Annie couldn’t believe her ears! “Are you telling me that you want to do it in Brackettville?”
“Yes. It would be appropriate. We met there. Not only that, it’s where we would’ve gotten married, if we didn’t have to come back here.”
Annie started to cry. “Oh Kel, it would mean so much to me to get married there. How did you know?”
“I talked to your sister Lisa.”
Lisa was Mrs. Bob Kelly. She was married to the local historian.
“She’s already helped me with a lot of the details. I already talked to dad and Sheryl. They’ll be there. Dad is going to be my best man. We made a pact when he married Sheryl. I’d be his best man, and he’d be mine when the time came. He was disappointed about missing it the first time, but he understood after I explained the circumstances.”
They finalized the plans over the weekend. Annie found San Francisco to be very romantic. When they got back to L.A., they prepared the invitations. Some were mailed. Others were hand delivered. Annie delivered the ones that went to her co-workers. Kel delivered the ones that were for his co-workers. By dinnertime, there were 6 invitations left to deliver. They decided to deliver them together. As they walked into Station 51, the sweet aroma of garlic and tomato greeted them.
“What’s that delicious smell?” Annie wondered aloud.
“Spaghetti sauce.” Replied Kel.
Kel and Annie got a warm greeting when they walked in.
“What brings you two here this evening?” asked Hank Stanley.
Kel looked at Annie. “We decided to renew our wedding vows, and we’d like you guys to be there.”
“Would you care to join us for dinner?” asked Hank.
“We’d love to!” Said Annie. “It smells delicious.”
Hank started to introduce Annie to Chet Kelly. She stopped him.
“I already know Chet. He’s visited Bob and Lisa many times. Lisa and I have to watch our step when they’re together. The two of them are quite a pair. I never knew what kind of pranks they’d come up with. Bob is a real card at times, but when it comes to his work he’s very serious.”
“Sounds like Chet.” Said Marco.
Hank knew Annie was well acquainted with Johnny and Roy, so he introduced her to Mike and Marco. She took a liking to all the guys and understood why Kel thought so highly of them. They talked during dinner. It was the first time in a very long time they ate a complete meal without being called out.
Annie handed out the invitations. The guys thanked them. “Doc, Johnny and I have vacation time coming up. I think we can persuade our illustrious captain to give us time off. Joanne and the kids would love it. What do you say Cap?”
“No problem. I’m also going to give Chet some time off so he can visit his cousin. I might be able to persuade the chief to give us all the time off, but I’m not sure. I’ll have to let you know.”
Annie said. “I hope all of you can come. You guys mean a lot to Kel, and me too. Who cooked tonight? This is absolutely delicious!”
Mike Stoker smiled shyly and replied, “Thank you ma’am, I appreciate the compliment. Would you like the recipe?”
“Only if you’re willing to give it to me.” Replied Annie.
“I’d be delighted. The recipe can be cut down if you need to.”
Mike gave Annie his spaghetti recipe, and the recipe for his fried chicken.
“Thank you. I’ll try them out.”
Marco added his chili recipe; Hank gave her his clam chowder recipe.
“Have you guys ever thought about putting out a cookbook?” Inquired Annie.
Hank looked at her and said, “That’s a GREAT idea! We could sell them at the firemen’s picnic and other special events then give the money to the department’s charity.”
“Yeah!” said Marco. “We’ll all contribute to it. We’ll even ask the other shifts to contribute recipes.”
“What should we call it?” asked Mike.
“How about ‘FIFTYONE’S FIREHOUSE FAVORITES’?” Suggested Kel.
“That’s perfect!’ Said Hank. “Thanks! You two will get the first copy.”
“It’s a deal!” said Annie. “I’ll put it to good use.”
The next few weeks were busy for everyone. Kel and Annie were tending to last minute details and the guys were finishing up the details on their cookbook so it would be ready in time. The guys were very thorough. They had no trouble getting it published. Mike had a friend in the publishing business so they got it done for nothing when they explained that the proceeds would be going to charity, and that the cost of publishing it could be seen as a charitable contribution.
All the guys from the ‘A’ shift were able to secure a weeks vacation. Kel took Roy’s kids and Johnny horseback riding. Dixie, Joe and Mike flew in four days before the renewal.
The big day arrived and everyone was ready. Annie looked beautiful in her grandmother’s wedding gown. Her mother wore it for her wedding; Lisa wore it for hers, now Annie was wearing it for hers.
Reverend Callahan inquired, “Who gives this woman to be married to this man?”
Annie had asked Hank Stanley to do the honors since her father had died several years ago. “I do.” Replied Hank proudly. No one there had any objections.
After the invocation, Reverend Callahan started. “This couple met 7 years ago today. Almost 2 years after they met, they had to leave here to help a sick colleague. Then they found out Annie was sick. I’m happy to say that Annie is now completely cancer free after 5 long years. These two have been through so much. They’ve requested to say their own vows.”
Kel took Annie’s hand in his, looked her in the eyes and said lovingly, “Seven years ago, when I moved here, I met the most beautiful woman in the world. I instantly fell in love with you. I’m so glad that you became a part of my life. You’ve made my life complete. When I thought I was going to lose you, I thought as a man in love, not as a doctor. You’ve given me 5 wonderful years. I’m looking forward to as many more years together as God will grant us. You give me peace, love and understanding everyday we’re together. I love you Annie, and I thank God everyday for bringing you into my life.” With that, he leaned over and kissed her.
Annie smiled, fought back tears, and said, “When I met you, I was intrigued by the fact that a big city doctor would leave for a smaller city. The more I was with you the more I loved you. You amazed me. I’m glad I went to L.A. with you. I met your friends and family. I understand their love for you. When I became sick, you didn’t leave me. Our love strengthened during that time. We’ve had 5 beautiful years, and like you, I look forward to as many more years together as God will grant us. You’re my sunshine and my strength. You’re the rock I lean on. You’re my knight in shining armor. What more could a woman ask for than that?” When she finished, she leaned forward and kissed him.
Reverend Callahan continued, “By the power vested in me by God, and the state of Texas, I now pronounce you, for the second time, husband and wife. You may now kiss the bride.” Kel took Annie in his arms and kissed her with an intensity they hadn’t felt for some time. The last five years had been very hard on them. Most of the people attending knew what they went through. After the kiss, the Reverend continued with, “Ladies and gentlemen, I’m proud to introduce to many of you for the second time, others for the first, Dr. and Mrs. Kelly James Brackett.”
Thunderous applause echoed throughout the church. When the applause died down, the reverend concluded with the benediction. When Annie threw the bouquet at the reception, Johnny caught it again. Johnny endured some good-natured teasing about that. He flashed his crooked smile and laughed with everyone else.
After the reception, Roy and the guys congratulated them and said they had to get back to L.A. Kel & Annie thanked them for coming. Dixie came up to Annie and said sincerely, “I’m so glad he found you. You’ve made him a very happy man. He’s more content than I’ve ever seen him. I’m also glad that we became friends.”
Annie started crying and hugged Dixie. “I’m glad we became friends too.” Kel was glad that the 2 ladies in his life were friends. His dad came over to him and said, “You made a good choice when you married Annie. She’s a lovely woman. I’m proud to have her as part of the family.”
Kel hugged his dad and said “Thank you. I know she thinks the world of you and Sheryl. Dad, how did you know mom was the one for you?” Neal grinned and said, “I just knew.” Kel said, “That’s how it was with Annie.” Kel then hugged his dad.
Neal danced one with Annie and Kel danced one with Sheryl. Kel had been so happy for them when they got married. Kel & his dad made a pact to act as best man for each other. Neal had missed the first wedding because he and Sheryl were in the middle of moving back to L.A. Kel understood. The first one was a little unusual. It was a bit rushed. They rushed it because of Annie being sick. Annie loved Neal. He was like a father to her. She found that comforting because her own father had died many years before.
Kel and Annie went on an extended honeymoon to Hawaii. About a month after they got back, Annie started feeling strange in the mornings. She didn’t tell Kel at first. She went to her gynecologist at Rampart. Annie’s reaction to what her gynecologist had to say was “You’ve GOT to be JOKING!”
Dr. Harper replied, “I’m not joking. You’re 6 weeks pregnant. I know your history, so I’m not surprised at your reaction. I’d feel the same way. The only thing left to say right now is congratulations, and I’ll see in 3 weeks.”
Annie sat there in a stunned silence for several minutes. She was composing herself before she went downstairs to break the news to Kel. She went down to the ER to tell Kel. She was excited. He wasn’t there. He was in surgery. Annie waited for him in his office.
Joe came in. “Hi Annie. What brings you here?”
“Hi, Joe. I have something to tell Kel.” She replied.
“It must be something that can’t wait until he gets home.”
“It is.” Annie replied beaming.
“Mind if I keep you company for a while? I have a break.”
“Not at all.”
“Would you like a cup of coffee?”
Annie declined. “When do you think Kel will get out of surgery?”
Joe shook his head. “I don’t know Annie. That depends on the procedure he’s doing. Some take longer than others.”
As Joe talked to her, he understood why Kel loved her so much. He liked her too. She was a good friend to himself and Dixie. Joe glanced at his watch. “Break’s over. I have to get back to work. It was nice chatting with you.” Joe left.
Annie was still waiting an hour later. She decided to stand up and stretch. She stepped out of Kel’s office and walked around the ER. She saw Kel. Annie sighed; he looked so handsome in his scrubs. She knew he’d be in his office soon. He talked to his patient’s family first. The patient would be okay. Annie went back into his office and waited a bit longer.
Annie didn’t have long to wait. A few minutes after she saw him, he came into his office. He saw her.
“How long were you waiting for me?’ He asked her.
“Over an hour.” She replied, as he sat at his desk.
“What brings you here?” Kel asked her.
“I had an appointment with Dr. Harper today. Kel, I’ve been feeling sick in the mornings lately. That’s why I went to see her.”
“Nothing’s wrong. I’m pregnant.”
Kel looked at her in total disbelief. “PREGNANT! Are you sure? How long?”
“Yes, about 6 weeks.”
His jaw dropped. It didn’t seem possible. Five years ago, the specialists didn’t think she’d ever be able to have children. Yet, here she was, telling him she was pregnant. He got up, went around his desk, hugged her and let out a whoop that could be heard all the way to the nurses’ desk. Johnny & Roy dashed into his office. “Are you all right Doc?” They asked.
Kel gave them a great big grin and replied, “Better than all right! Why don’t you guys meet us for coffee in about 10 minutes? Tell Joe and Dixie to meet us too.”
The guys headed for the lounge. They met Joe & Dixie and relayed the request.
Everyone wondered why he or she’d been asked to meet there. Kel and Annie came in ten minutes later.
Kel turned to Annie and said, “Tell them what you told me.”
“I’m six weeks pregnant.” Annie said, beaming.
Everybody looked at her in disbelief. Kel saw it and said, “I know. It’s quite a shock. I’m having a hard time believing it myself.”
“What does your dad think?” asked Dixie.
“We just found out today, so we haven’t told him yet. I can’t wait to see his face when we tell him. There’s one other person I want to tell too.”
“Who?’ asked Annie.
“Ted. He’ll be delighted to hear he was wrong.”
Everyone extended congratulations to Kel & Annie. They all knew that they’d pretty much given up the idea of having children of their own. This news was truly miraculous and wonderful. Later that day, Kel called Ted in Minnesota and told him the news. Ted was genuinely delighted to hear it. The two talked for about 20 minutes.
Kel and Annie got the chance to tell his dad. They were together the following weekend. After he got past the initial shock, Neal grinned, and hugged Kel and Annie. He was excited about becoming a grandpa. Sheryl was equally excited. This would be their first and probably only grandchild. Kel and Annie had asked them how they’d feel about having an adopted grandchild. Neal knew why they asked that and had told them that it didn’t matter. An adopted grandchild would be loved just as much as a natural one would be. Kel and Annie were glad to hear that.
The time came for the first sonogram. Kel went with Annie for that. They were waiting for the results. It seemed like an eternity before the doctor came out.
“Sorry it took so long, but I had to double check the results.”
“What did it show?” asked Annie.
“It looks like you’re going to have twins.” Replied Dr. Harper. “It’s hard to tell for sure though. You can look for yourselves.”
Kel and Annie looked. Kel thought he saw two, but wasn’t sure. He then used the stethoscope on Annie. He did hear two distinct heartbeats, but thought he heard a third one too. He wasn’t sure on that. The next sonogram would say for sure.
That night, Kel called his dad with the news. “Dad, are you sitting down?”
“Kelly Brackett, what’s going on with you? Are you drunk?” Neal Brackett said with some irritation.
“No, I’m not drunk, just extremely happy. We have some news about Annie’s pregnancy for you and Sheryl. Annie is going to have TWINS!!”
“WHAT?” Neal said excitedly. He was glad he was sitting down. “Sheryl, come in here! You’re never going to believe this!” He told Sheryl the happy news. “Well, when are the babies due?”
“Well, ‘grandpa’ we’re not sure. Dr. Harper couldn’t be certain. Just as well, when I listened, I thought I heard a third heartbeat, but I’m not sure. The next sonogram will tell us more. I’ll call you when we know more.”
Kel talked to his dad for a long time. They talked about being a father and the responsibilities it brings.
The time came for the second sonogram. It confirmed twins, but they still couldn’t say for sure if there was a third baby. Dr. Harper estimated the due date to be sometime in December.
That night, Kel called his dad. “Dad, the sonogram confirmed that it was twins. We still can’t tell if there are three though. The due date is sometime in December.”
“That’s wonderful, Kel. December is a time for miracles.” Neal said with much emotion. “We’ll be coming to see you this weekend. Okay?”
“Okay, dad, see you then.”
The next few months seemed to pass in a blur to both of them. Dixie and Joanne DeSoto were helping Annie with everything. Joanne was an experienced mother. She had a baby boy nearly 6 months earlier. Dixie, who had been told years ago that she could never have children, was more excited at times than Annie and Kel were. They both got a kick out of it.
One night Kel asked Annie a very important question. “Who do you want to be our children’s God-parents?”
Almost without hesitation Annie replied, “Dixie and Joe, who else. They’re our best friends. We could ask Roy and Joanne too.”
“Okay. We’re having supper with all of them tomorrow night. Johnny and his latest girlfriend Sharon are coming too. We’ll ask them then.”
The next night they asked Joe and Dixie about being Godparents. “YES!” They said in unison. Kel explained that if for some reason Joe & Dixie would be unable to do what was asked of them, they wanted to be reassured that Roy and Joanne would take care of the kids. “No problem.” Roy replied. Joanne agreed with Roy.
The second sonogram proved that what they had thought was a third baby was really only an echo.
One night Annie felt some pains. She woke Kel up. It was a false labor.
Sometime in the middle of the night on December 15/16, Annie’s water broke. She had started labor. It wasn’t bad yet, so she didn’t wake Kel up. Kel got up the morning of the 16th. It was a beautiful day. His dad and Cheryl would be coming in a few days. They were going to stay awhile to help Annie with the babies.
Kel looked at her. She looked so beautiful & peaceful lying there. He was amazed that they’d be parents soon. He kissed her on the forehead and said, “I’m on my way to the hospital. If things don’t get crazy, I should be home around nine tonight.”
“Okay. I’ll see you then.” ‘If not sooner.’ She thought.
“What are you going to do today?”
“I think I’ll stay in bed awhile longer, it feels so good.”
“Okay. I’ll call you later to see how you’re doing.”
“Okay.” He kissed her and left.
By 10 am, Annie was in full labor. She called for the paramedics. Within 20 minutes, she heard the sirens outside. Then she heard two familiar voices.
“Roy, this is Kel and Annie’s house!”
They knocked on the door and identified themselves as being with the fire department. “COME IN!” She yelled, in obvious pain.
“Annie, what’s wrong?” Roy asked with obvious concern.
“I believe the babies decided to make their entrances now.” She said through contractions.
“How far apart are the contractions?” asked Johnny while he was setting up the bio-phone. “Have you called Kel?’
“The contractions are about four minutes apart. Kel’s at work and I haven’t called him yet. I didn’t tell him I was in labor before he left.”
Johnny & Roy looked at each other. “Why not?”
“Because, the pains weren’t bad until just after he left here.”
“Well, it looks like our little miracles are going to be stubborn and not wait for the hospital.” Said Roy, in a mischievous tone.
Johnny handled the call in. “Rampart, this is county 51. How do you read?”
“County 51, we read you loud and clear.” Replied Dixie.
With great delight, Johnny said, “Rampart, we have a female victim in her late 30’s. She is in full labor. Her contractions are less than 4 minutes apart. Her BP is 126/86, her pulse is 100, and respirations due to contractions are 24. The fetal heart tones are good at 130.” Before he ended his transmission, he said, “Oh, Rampart, there’s just one more thing, the female victim is Annie Brackett.”
“51, did you say Annie?” Came Mike Morton’s voice.
“Affirmative Rampart.” Replied Johnny.
Mike looked at Dixie, then asked in an uncharacteristically mischievous tone, “51, can she be transported to the hospital, or will you two be the baby doctors?”
“It looks like we’ll be doing a home delivery. Her contractions are now 2 minutes apart. We’ll leave the transmitter open so you can hear. I need to assist Roy.”
Just before he left the transmitter open, he heard, “Affirmative 51. We’ll advise Kel.”
Dixie made the call to have Dr. Brackett paged. Over the loudspeaker, they heard “Dr. Brackett report to the base station STAT! Dr. Brackett to the base station STAT!” Kel dashed into the base station, looked at Mike & Dixie. “What’s the problem?”
“We’ve got 51 on the link. They’ve got a woman in labor.”
“You paged me for that!” Kel replied sounding irritated.
“She isn’t due for a few more days.”
“When babies are ready to come, they come.” Said Dixie soothingly.
Kel laughed. “I know. I was due in May.”
“Your birthday is in March.”
Dixie grinned. “Let’s see how they’re doing.”
Dixie got on the link. “County 51, this is Rampart. How’s it going?”
Johnny’s voice came back, “We’re doing fine Rampart.”
The next voice Johnny heard was Kel’s.
“How’s Annie doing?”
“She’s doing great.”
Kel paced the floor. He had wanted to be with Annie when she had the babies, but it wasn’t meant to be. ‘Well, I’m glad Johnny and Roy are there. There’s nobody I’d rather have with her since I can’t be.’ Kel’s thoughts were soon interrupted by a loud wail coming over the link. Johnny’s voice soon followed.
“Baby number one is a handsome, healthy boy.”
It was some time before a second wail was heard. Johnny got on the link again and said, “The second baby is a beautiful, healthy girl.”
Cheers went up. Kel was grinning from ear to ear. He hugged Dixie and Mike Morton.
Roy and John were finishing up at the scene when the ambulance arrived. Johnny got on the link and said “Rampart, we are ready to transport.”
“10-4, bring them in, we’ll be waiting for you.”
The ambulance arrived before long. Annie was taken to the maternity ward and the babies were taken to the nursery. Kel had been advised that he should let Annie get some rest before he went to see her. He hugged both paramedics in turn.
“Thank you both for being there for Annie.”
Johnny replied “We were just doing our job Doc.”
Kel was silent for several moments. “You did more than that. It put me at ease knowing that you two were there when I couldn’t be. I couldn’t think of anyone else I would’ve wanted to be there.”
“Thanks , Doc. I’ll call Joanne when I get back to the station. She’ll want to know.” Said Roy.
Kel nodded. His eyes filled with tears of joy. He said nothing. He didn’t have to. The look on his face said it all. Johnny and Roy got some supplies, then were called out on another run. Kel went into his office, called his dad and broke the news. ‘Grandpa’ was somewhat surprised. “We’ll see you next week.” His dad said.
An hour later, Kel was sitting by Annie’s bedside. She was asleep. Kel just sat there and watched her sleep. He didn’t say a word. He had seen the babies a little while ago. They both had his eyes. While he was looking at them, an old woman came up to him. She asked him which one was his. He told her. She told him she loved looking at the babies because it reassured her that life does go on. That was something he’d always remember. Right now, he was waiting for Annie to wake up. Annie opened her eyes. She smiled when she saw Kel.
“Hi.” She said.
“Hi, ‘mom.’ How do you feel?”
“Like I’ve been run over by a truck.”
Kel understood. “I love you Annie.” She went back to sleep.
Within a week, Annie was ready to go home. There was quite a bit to take home. There were the babies, Daniel & Margaret, Those were the names Kel & Annie had agreed on. There were the car seats to get them home, and there were the flowers. One arrangement was from the ‘honorary uncles’ of Station 51 ‘A’ shift.
When they got home, Annie looked around at the Christmas decorations. ‘You did a beautiful job decorating, Kel.”
“Thank you, but I had some help.”
Annie didn’t have to ask who helped him, she knew because Kel had told her. The next day was Christmas Eve. Neal and Sheryl were planning to stay a while to help
Annie. The next day they celebrated Christmas. Annie wasn’t up to going to church just yet, so she stayed home.
When the men got home, they celebrated Christmas. “How do you feel, Kel?” asked his dad.
“I feel wonderful.” Then Kel said seriously, “I hope I’m as good a father to them as you’ve always been to me.”
Neal’s eyes filled with tears as he hugged Kel. “You’ll do fine.”
“Thanks dad.” Said Kel.
Later that evening, Neal read the Christmas Gospel. After everyone went to bed, Kel stayed up a while longer. Kel said, “Lord, you’ve truly blessed your humble servant. Thank you for Annie and our two beautiful, healthy children. Help us bring them up to know you. Amen.”
With that, he went to bed. He slipped in next to Annie. He went to sleep feeling like the luckiest man in the world. He had a beautiful, loving wife and two beautiful healthy children. He gave a silent ‘Thank you God.” as he moved closer to Annie. He was happy. What more could he ask for than that?