Of Bubble Wrap and Cage Fighting: An Homage to Mom and Dad

by jimowensjr

Did you get my message?” she asked.


I had turned off the ringer on my digital leash—phone, I mean—so I hadn’t realized she had called.


“Everything is okay, but…”


We’ve all felt the ache in our stomach and racing of our hearts when the phone rings late at night.  If you’ve raised a child, worried about an ill family member, or have someone you love going through a challenge, you know exactly what I’m talking about.


I’ve had calls like that from my daughter,” I’m okay but, I’ve had a wreck.”


And from my son, “I’m okay but there’s someone pounding on my door.


But when you get that kind of call from your Mother, knowing that she and your Dad live an hour and a half away, well, it kind of makes your mouth go dry.


This time my 83-year-old father had attempted a full gainer off the high dive—no that’s not right—wait.  It was his night at Fight Club.  Nope.  Not that’s not right either.   Ah, it doesn’t matter.  The bottom line is that a quick trip to the ER and about 30 stitches later, he was raring to go again.  Well, maybe not raring.


When he called me from the car, doing his best Indian accent, he told me he was wearing his turban; a gauze bandage wrapped around his head.  I told him I was going to buy him a helmet and some shoulder pads.  He laughed, told me he was pretty banged up, but was gonna live.  But I digress.


When we swapped texts last night, he told me he appreciated me coming down to check on him.  He told me that he loved me and knew how much I care about him and Mom that he would be okay. He told me Mom was taking good care of him.  He told me not to worry.  And I thought how about how much both of them inspire me.


Life takes courage.  It takes determination.  It takes a sense of humor.  And the people I call Mom and Dad are full of all three.  Lord, they raised me.  Just feeding me and keeping me in shoes that fit took all three.  And it has taken them all for both of them as they have dealt with the unexpected challenges and opportunities of life; moving across country, career changes, family stuff, and some bad news from the doctor from time to time.  Plus, there was the whole Jimmy Carter Presidency.  But they keep going.  They keep laughing.  They keep staring into the face of difficult things and smiling.  As my Mother says, “you just do what you gotta do.”


I’m sure they’ve had their moments of fear, those moments in the middle of the night when you wonder how things are going to turn out.  I’m sure they’ve shed some tears I’ll never know about.  And I’m sure they worry about me more than they worry about themselves.  They are indeed made of stern stuff.  I hope I’m made of some of that too.


Now lest I end this little tome a maudlin note, you should know I’ve given up on the notion of a helmet and shoulder pads. I told Dad bubble wrap would be easier and cheaper so the next time he rides his skateboard, he’ll be ready.  And that scar over his left eye is just gonna make him even sexier with the eye patch and the pirate hat he’s getting for Father’s Day.  He’ll probably wear them while he’s running the chain saw I gave him a few years ago.


And Mom, if you’re reading this don’t cry.