Hannah with her father, Len.
As my Today’s Parent colleagues know from the fact that I hobbled into work on Valentine’s Day with a concussion and myriad bruises, last week I took a nasty fall down my house’s steep and slippery stairs.
What is not known to anyone (well, until now) is that my first thought after waking up from my post-faint second fall that morning was not to call work, an ambulance, or even one of my friends here in Toronto. No, my first instinct was to call my parents back home in Australia; my parents, who are half a world and 16 hours’ time difference away.
The one coherent thought in my ringing head was that as long as I could hear my mum and dad’s voices telling me that everything would be OK, then everything truly would be OK. If my dad said I wasn’t seriously hurt, then all the scrapes, aches, bruises and cascading headaches would lose their power over me.
It didn’t matter that it was midnight in Australia, that my parents were in bed, or that they could have no idea of how serious my 7:30 a.m. fall somewhere in Canada was.
All that mattered was the (apparently magical) healing ability of my parents’ care, love and commonsense.
And so I called my poor parents at midnight Australia-time, related my story of falling in slightly-slurring words, and waited for the long-distance medical assessment that I believed they, as a documentarian and computer engineer, were qualified to give.
Later that day, when we all knew I was going to be fine, I received an email from my dad saying how glad he was that I had called home after my fall. And it led me to wonder: Do we, as children, ever stop wanting to hear our parents tell us that everything is going to be OK? Do parents ever stop wanting to protect and reassure their children that everything will be OK, no matter how old the kids grow or how far from the nest they fly?
Perhaps these webs of giving and receiving care and comfort will always exist within families. Perhaps, as children grow older and become the caregivers of new families and aging parents alike, these webs change shape but never break. Perhaps this is not something to be ashamed of, but instead to celebrate.
For who wants to give up such strong and enchanting bonds of love?
Although my parents might prefer me to keep my panicked long-distance phone calls between the hours of 9 a.m. and 9 p.m.
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