It’s “the look” that can’t be explained to, ( or understood by ) anyone who is not a parent. I guess I should say that perhaps I’m just not capable of getting the point and emotion required, across to those without children. I can tell this, because as I tell of how events unfolded, I can easily sense from the listeners who amongst them are the parents and who is merely listening to the story. The listeners are clearly without concept of the emotions involved.
The first time not-so-mini-Peb’s walked towards me with Blood spilling from her head after a fall off the wooden jungle gym in the park, thoughts randomized rapidly between, “what kind of Father am I, that I couldn’t be there to catch her?” and “I wonder if this is how Dad felt that time with the nail?” The feelings endured when seeing your child in pain, do get a little easier with time for sure. But there really is no way to prepare you for that one first time, the one you know is inevitably going to happen, but yet it still somehow manages to surprise you all the same. I remember the look on my Fathers face, as clearly today as if it had just happened. My Mother had a look of horror and started to cry immediately. All the while trying to move me around and stop me from bleeding all over everything in the house. My Fathers face had a look of peace and calm about it. It just told me to go to him and he would take care of what was wrong, in the way it should be taken care of.
About 2 ½ miles from the house, they were building a new sub-division of houses and the project had only just begun. This made the site a veritable playground for a kid on a dirt bike! I spent hours a day down there, jumping in and out of the holes that had been dug for the foundations to be poured. The excavated dirt piled so high, it was just daring me to jump the bike from the highest of them all. I was in Heaven. It’s a funny thing about construction sites, one day there’s a bunch of empty holes in the ground, some short time later, there’s an entire community. Somewhere in between the two, there’s a lot of material and scrap just laying around looking harmless and messy. As I always did, I took a look around on foot before throwing myself into any great hole in the ground, or jumping off a hill onto the other side. Call me crazy if you like, but I always preferred to know what I was heading towards, before I made the decision to go. It was during the harmless act of walking near the edge of a mound of dirt that I thought would make a great little jump, that I felt a searing burn of pain suddenly in my right calf. It seemed I’d stepped on the end of a short bit of scrap 2 x 4 and had it come up and smack me in the leg. I tried to move it away as it persisted in dragging along with me. I remember thinking to myself, “Why is that wood stuck to my leg?” as I reached down to brush it away. It wasn’t going anywhere. It appeared that the 8” nail that had driven completely through my right calf muscle would see to that. I couldn’t pull it out for the pain and I couldn’t get on the bike with the wood attached to my leg. So sitting side-saddle and going as quick as I could, I headed for home where I knew my Dad would make things right.
At first I felt afraid that something was terribly wrong and felt it, from the second I saw my Mothers face. That fear only grew as she frantically rushed me from spot to spot, with the major consideration apparently being the flooring and how blood would have an impact on it. Then came the calmness and serenity to the situation that was my Father. I remember him looking me directly in the eyes several times, as he assessed the situation and made his plan to relieve me of my wooden companion. With poise and confidence, he told me how everything was going to be OK after just a little bit more pain. I was not asked if I could take just a bit more, I clearly remember being told that I was, “tough enough for anything” and how “proud I(he) was that his boy made it all the way home like the big man he is.” I can tell you that I remember all of the facets of that day, but what I don’t remember is that one little thing. I couldn’t tell you the exact moment, that I no longer had a nail through my leg. Sometime during that conversation as I stared into my fathers eyes and listened to his calming voice, he slipped it out and had already started addressing the excessive bleeding of the now un-plugged holes, where it had once pierced through the flesh.
As my daughter approached me in tears from her fall, I remembered everything from that day with the nail. I took Dad’s lesson and consoled little Peb’s with calm and serenity. All the while churning inside that my child was truly hurt and bleeding. It’s a battle raging within your being, as you want to release the emotion of fear and sadness for your sweet and innocent child, but should know that calm is the best medicine you can offer your child at that crucial time. When they need you the most, you need to be there for them. I could see the flushness withdraw from her face. I could see in her eyes that everything was going to be OK and even more importantly, I could see the calmness transferring into those beautiful eyes of hers, when I knew she had to be hurting like hell.
As we gazed calmly into each other’s eyes and I told my daughter how proud I was of her for being such a big girl, I slowly and steadily removed the 3” x ¼” piece of railway tie splinter from the gash in her forehead. I realized at that exact moment, that I’d not only learnt a valuable lesson from my Father, but that I was now seeing through his eyes almost 40 years later.
My sincerest thanks for dropping by….