The call came in the middle of a meeting.

But it was no surprise. We knew it was coming. It was just a matter of when.

And “when” happened to be in the middle of an Arts Place board meeting.

I had just managed to give a report from the nominating committee on a slate of new officers for the coming year when my cell phone chirped.

Daughter Sally was due to deliver our fifth grandchild Oct. 27. But the call came a week early.

She wants us there now, my wife explained over the phone as I exited the meeting.

The sky was growing dark, and the last thing I wanted on my agenda was a three-hour drive at night. But you play the cards you are dealt.

We packed like lightning.

Connie had given it much more thought than I had. My list was sketchy and was literally on the back of an envelope.

The first headache came around New Castle, where a maze of orange cones and barrels made the trip nerve-wracking in the dark. Then it was I-70 and more construction cones. On I-465, an accident brought traffic to a crawl for several miles. And then it was a matter of the I-69 construction detours that sent us to Mooresville and the west end of Martinsville before we were really getting close to our destination.

We rolled in about 10:20 p.m., which wasn’t bad under the circumstances. But my eyes hurt and my head throbbed from the trip.

By then — Wednesday night — Sally was already at the hospital. There were some blood pressure issues, and the baby — destined to be our third granddaughter — was big. No one wanted to do a C-section, so they held her overnight while sorting things out.

Ben was relieved to see us and could get on with the work of an expectant father. That is, he could focus on being nervous and jittery and helpless and generally more wound up than it is healthy to be wound up.

By the next morning, our chores were clear. Ben would take daughter Bea to daycare then go to the hospital. Connie would focus on domestic strategies: Laundry, shopping lists, meal planning and the like.

As for me? Well, an expectant grandfather in a situation like this could hardly be less useful or essential. No chores presented themselves.

“There’s the changing table,” said Sally. “Could you get that taken care of?”

Changing table? It was one of those assemble-it-yourself jobbies designed by people more interested in making it easy to manufacture than in making it easy to assemble.

Ben and his dad Brian had already wrestled that dragon and surrendered.

“Sure,” I said. “I’ll take care of it.”

Furniture assembly isn’t something that any of us signed on for, but it’s something that all of us find ourselves doing, whether it’s a Sauder bookcase or an IKEA thingamajig or — in this case — a diaper changing table produced by some yahoos in Wisconsin.

I took a look at it the next day, and I began to sweat.

Ben and his dad, faced with nine steps of nearly comprehensible instructions, had stopped in the middle. They had given up at step 5.

But they should have given up at step 3.

That’s because some crucial aspects of step 4 were missed and doing step 5 made it more difficult to go backwards.

Now, I should be the first to state that things like this are not among my genetic strengths. My father had to invite friends over on Christmas Eve to assemble my first bicycle. His lack of mechanical aptitude was legendary locally.

But over the years, I have learned. And among the first things I learned was not to only look at the instructions but to study them. Double-check the parts list. Look and look again. Try to account for failures on the manufacturer’s part. (In the case of the changing table, an illustration that was intended to be helpful needed to be rotated 90 degrees to begin to make any sense.)

I spent three short sessions with the daggoned thing the first day, stopping each time when I felt my blood pressure and blue vocabulary rising.

At the end of the third, having undone step 5 and step 4, I enlisted Connie’s help and managed to get the right pegs into the right holes.

That night, another miracle happened: Cora Emiline Lawson was born, weighing in at 8 pounds, 1 ounce, and measuring 21 inches.

So, the next morning, I knew I had to bring it together. If Sally could go through labor and bring forth a child, her dad ought to be able to bring forth a changing table.

And I did.

Mostly, it came as a result of thinking rather than doing. So when it came to actually making steps 5 and 6 and 7 and 8 and 9 come together, I knew how the whole thing worked. It all made sense.

It was a small victory. We all need those now and then.

But measured against the 21 inches of Cora Emiline Lawson, it’s nothing.

Nothing at all.