Rule #10 — never go anywhere without a rope

Posted on January 31, 2011


There was a “missed call” on the phone the other day from a number I didn’t know. I didn’t even recognise the area code. Since there was no message, and it was fairly late, I didn’t phone back.

Actually, I don’t generally phone back unknown numbers any more. The last time I did, I was almost charged with harassment. See, I found a message one day from a woman asking me to call her back, and when I did she wanted to know why I was calling. I told her that, in fact, she’d called me and asked me to call her back, and she said, yes, but why did I call her in the first place? I told her I had no idea who she was and that I’d never called her in my life, but she told me that she’d received a call from this number and there was no message so she’d called to find out who it was and to tell whoever it was to not call any more.

I managed to avoid a restraining order, but for a while it was a close thing.

Still, this strange area code intrigued me, and the next day, since I had a lot of marking to do for school, I decided to look it up on the Internet. It turned out it was from Texas. Well, this triggered a vague memory — namely, “Hey! My daughter lives in Texas.” So then I looked up the entire number (no, really — I had a lot of marking to do) and sure enough, it turned out to be the number of the compound where she lives with her husband and children and a batch of other born-again Christians who I’m pretty sure don’t have a stockpile of firearms.

So I called.

The first thing she did was reassure me.

“Don’t worry, daddy,” she said, “the doctors say Joshua should make a full recovery.”

Joshua is my second youngest child and lives in Alberta. I was, of course, relieved to hear that he’d make a full recovery, but I may have masked this relief a bit by jabbering, “He’ll what? Recovery from what? Huh? What the — heck — happened.”

I’m always very careful not to swear around my daughter, because of the whole Christian thing, plus I don’t know for sure about that weapons stockpile.

Well, it turns out that my second youngest son, who is a minister in Alberta (but not the kind who lives on a compound or even thinks about stockpiling weapons) was shovelling snow off a roof and fell onto a concrete parking lot. In doing so he managed to break his pelvis and two ribs as well as puncturing a lung and collapsing it.

There was also severe concussion.

“But they say he’s going to be fine,” said my daughter. Who lives in Texas. Telling me about my son. Who lives in Alberta.

Leroy Jethro Gibbs: Rule #9

Oddly enough, I was just talking to Joshua a few days earlier, and not once in the entire course of the conversation (consisting, in part, of the discovery that we both carried jackknives partly because of Gibbs Rule #9: “Never go anywhere without a knife”) did he mention any plans to fall off a roof.

Once I got the basic story I tried calling his house, but it turns out that his wife has gone to stay with her parents, so I can’t contact her for the time being. This means that my only conduit of information is through my daughter, Ayesha, who has their number. (And why did it just dawn on me right this minute that I could get the number from her? I’ll have to do that tomorrow.)

Anyway, I called Ayesha again last night to get the latest news.

“They had him up on one foot with a walker, today,” she told me, “and he’s recognising almost everyone who comes into the room.”

“Well, that’s good,” I said.

“Wait,” I said.

“He’s recognising people?” I said.

“You mean, like he wasn’t recognising people before?” I said.

Or, maybe I sort of yelled.

Ayesha, who is always calm (possibly because she knows that if anything goes wrong she can always reach into the cupboard for an AK-47), patiently gave me the details.

“When he first regained consciousness he didn’t recognise anyone and didn’t know what city he was in. Then he started to recognise his wife and a few other people and knew he was in Calgary. Now he recognises pretty well everyone.”

“Okay, then.” I said. “That’s good, right?”

“Yes,” she told me. “And he no longer thinks it’s 1965.”


“Did you say, ‘1965’?”

“Yes,” she said. “Yesterday he knew he was in Calgary, but he thought the year was 1965.”

I was 12 in 1965. Joshua — not so much.

“Why the — heck — did he think it was 1965?” I asked, as calmly as possible, still keeping in mind the question of her available fire power.

“We don’t know, but he knows what year it is now.”

Well, that’s good.

Apparently Joshua is going to make a full recovery, but it will be a long process. I’m really hoping none of this not-recognising-people and thinking-Petula-Clark’s-Downtown-is-the-number-one-hit stuff is going to permanently affect his personality. I really like his personality. A lot of his characteristics are much like mine, and there are few enough of us already.

We even carry our jackknives in the same pocket.