There are two reasons Rob Azevedo doesn’t brag about his former title.
A: I’m not one to boast.
And B:? Well, there is no B. I’m just going to tell you how last week I received the “Former Flatlander Father of The Year Award” in Manchester.
Please, save the champagne for later. Its heft will come in handy.
To explain how I landed the prestigious award is no easier task. The path I took to fulfill its strict criteria is lined with riddles, doubt, discipline, and ice. Lots of ice.
I suppose it began last Saturday, when I invited my retired neighbor, Herb, over to my house to check out a wall I wanted knocked down on the first floor. You know, open the place up a bit.
“You’re looking at 10k! Easy!” he was shouting. “It‘s a carrying wall too! Twenty, maybe higher.“
I was thinking more like two grand.
While Herb was scaring the hell out of me, my cell popped and it was my wife.
“Leo”—our son—“fell at the birthday party and says his wrist is really hurting,” she was saying, I think.
I was fighting to hear her because Herb’s assault continued with a hammers touch in the background. “Oh, kid! You’re gonna need all this electrical ripped out and replaced, too. That’s another seven, easy.”
Okay, I told my wife. Bring him home.
She comes home and the kid is obviously bummed out. He’s go this left wrist wrapped up in a mesh tennis ball bag. His eyes were wet, but not panicked. All my attention should have been on Leo, but Herb was still raining in my ear.
“If that wall ain’t done right, whole second floor’s gonna fall right in.”
I had my son stick his arm out. No swelling, no bruises. Skins intact. Wiggle you’re fingers, I said. He can. Okay, make a fist. He does, but with just the slightest of wince.
You’re fine, I tell him. Let’s put some ice on it.
I’m monitoring him now, making sure he actually was What I Told Him He Was.
Which was fine.
I broke my hand once and the swelling was mortifying. The purple stretching of the skin, the nut sized knot cross my knuckles, all of it still keeps me awake to this very day. He carried none of my pain.
Next day, he seems okay. I mean, it was before seven in the morning and my brain hadn’t kicked in. He was wearing an Ace bandage around his wrist that I hadn’t given him. Too busy figuring out what a carrying beam means.
I told my son his efforts were resourceful and forward thinking. “Keep any potential swelling down,” I said, “which there likely won’t be seeing that your wrist wasn’t swollen in the first place. Right? Lets leave it at that.”
Off to school he goes. Comes home. Next day, same deal. He’s spooning his flavorless Oats with his dominant hand, little wincing, the Ace, the ice, the sandwich bags and more ice. Always ice.
He’s back in the fold now after a day of running and gunning. It’s dinner time. Wife is still eyeing that wrist four days later over my pork shops. “Can you please take your sons shirt sleeve out of the squash?” I ask.
My wife looks at me with that look, that biting, all knowing glare you just want to burn to the ground. “He’s fine.” I say, pretty much, almost definitely certain his wrist wasn’t broken.
Back to mopping squash.
Two hours later, a bottomless howl ran through the house like the bells at the Sistine Chapel. Deep wails of stored pain. A cry so defiant in its urgency it said said just one thing: Get me to a doctors office, you mad fool!
Next afternoon, me and the boy are walking into the doctors office. From the parking lot to the front door, I continued my Herbish assault. “Now, when the doctor tells you that your wrist is fine, that’s the end of it.”
The doctor walks in, takes one look at his wrist and goes, “Yeah, you banged this up pretty good, didn’t you buddy? Let’s get an X ray.”
An X ray? I cave into myself, loathing, guilt, the whole deal.
Over to radiology we go, and I still half-believe I am correct. He’s fine!
Three minutes later the radiologist returns and says, “See that bump sticking out where the bone should be? That’s where his wrist is broken.”
And that’s how I was awarded the “Former Flatlander Father of the Year Award” in Manchester last week.
Go ahead and pop that champagne now. Empty it right out before breaking it over my head. No worries. I got plenty of ice in the house.
Read more on #RealFatherhood.
Image courtesy of the author