Tuesday, April 7, 2015
One of the greatest challenges in life is raising kids. You walk the fine line between trying to make everything right for them and letting them find their own way. When they are young, you want to protect them from everything. Yet, you want them to learn how to take care of themselves.
While I was at the University of Oklahoma, our two older children started to school. By their second year, they were walking to school by themselves. It was only a few blocks in a nice university town. They liked the independence and we fretted. But it got easier on us as the months went on.
One day, shortly after they left and I was about to leave for campus, the phone rang. I was giving a seminar on information value theory. Probably a student asking about an assignment. I answered the call.
“They have taken your son to the hospital. We do not know the extent of the injuries. Your daughter is not hurt.”
Crushing news first stops all rational thought and makes you unable to move. Then you are propelled into a frenzy of activity. Minutes later we enter the hospital at full speed, only to be brought to a standstill by the steady, slow pace of the admitting personnel. Eventually we are allowed to talk to the doctors. They are calm, grave, reserved. It isn’t their child. Our son has suffered a severe concussion but they believe it is “not serious.” To us, severe and not serious don’t seem to go together. They will keep him in the hospital for a day or two for observation. For us, that seems to eliminate the “not serious” part of the description.
We are allowed to see our son. He is sleeping. I think. Or maybe he’s in a coma. I can’t tell. I choose to believe he is sleeping.
I stay the night in an uncomfortable chair. He sleeps. I do not.
But early in the morning, he wakes up. He doesn’t know where he is and I tell him he in the hospital.
“Why am I in the hospital?”
I explain that a car hit him. “The driver was turning and the morning sun blinded him and he didn’t see you.”
He is satisfied with that and seems to ease back into sleep.
An hour later, he wakes and asks, “Why am I in the hospital?”
I explain about the accident and he nods.
For the next twenty-four hours, this same scene is played out a half-dozen times. Each time, I am getting more concerned.
On the third day, the doctors tell me we might as well take him home. He needs rest and he can get that at home as well as in the hospital. I ask about his continual questions about why he is in the hospital. They are unconcerned. Short term memory, they assure me, will return. When? I ask. When it returns, they answer.
At home, he eats very little - small amounts of Jello, a little milk, little else. This is from a boy who is generally a big eater. After his second day at home, I finally get to campus and give the seminar that had been scheduled five days earlier. It is not a great presentation.
That night, I am sitting in the living room and in walks my son. It is the first time he had been up without being coaxed out of bed. “I’m hungry,” he says. I get a small bowl of pudding and bring it in. “No. I’m really hungry. Can I have a hamburger and some potato chips?”
Wow. I am eager to fix him a meal. After he finished, he asks for his books. “I need to do my homework. I’m going to school tomorrow.”
He is fine. And a few days later, so am I.
That was in my days as a mathematician. Now that son is a college professor and I write mystery and suspense books. The second in my Father Frank mysteries, Over My Dead Body, will be out in May. The first, Cleansed by Fire, is available as a paperback, a Kindle edition, an e-pub, and an audio book, narrated by five-time Emmy Award Winner Jonathan Mumm. You can find more at: http://amzn.to/1fqgWee.
After a successful career in mathematics and computer science, receiving grants from the National Science Foundation and NASA, and being listed in Who’s Who in Computer Science and Two Thousand Notable Americans, James R. Callan turned to his first love—writing. He wrote a monthly column for a national magazine for two years. He has had four non-fiction books published. He now concentrates on his favorite genre, mystery/suspense, with his sixth book releasing in 2014.
Amazon Author Page: http://amzn.to/1eeykvG
His new release, Over My Dead Body, is available for pre-orders at: http://amzn.to/1BmYQ0Q