To my son Tommy,
Getting a phone call on at 3:53 AM is never a good thing. (Especially when I couldn't fall asleep till a little after midnight) When that phone rings I hope and pray that it is one of the normal emergencies and not something more grave. This morning it was one of the usual suspects as your great grandfather had a fall. When this happens your grandfather needs assistance getting his father back up and settled and I will be there to answer the call whenever I can. Before, when this first started happening, I would get upset about the fall but strangely I am now thankful that the phone call is just about a fall.
I was a little slower than normal this morning. It took me a whole seven minutes from the time your mom hung up the phone after saying, "I will tell him." as she turned to me and said "Granddad On The Floor" to get out the door. Though I was still too groggy to chuckle, I thought it funny that we have secret service like code phrases that initiate a family plan with little to no conversation. Sort of like "Eagle has left the nest" or "Renegade on the move" or "Tumbler eating pretzels" but with no earpiece nor sunglasses nor Sig Sauer 357. With those words uttered by your mother, we both knew I would be out the door as soon as possible and that she might have to cover for me by taking over complete responsibility for you in the morning because my focus had shifted. The only difference today was she added, "Be careful driving" because neither of us knew the road conditions after yesterday's freak hail, sleet, and snow session that mother nature threw at us nine or ten days after the official start of spring.
The roads were fine except for the people on them. One guy blocked the entire street on Aldershot for five minutes when I pulled up behind him. Instead of pulling forward and over and letting me pass, he decided by putting on his hazard lights (after I was directly behind him and would have to reverse it over 100 yards to go another route) that he was in the right. A few choice words let him know that he was being selfish and he finally moved over and let me pass. Then there were at least three people that I swear were sleep driving. They weren't stopping at intersections nor checking for cars as they changed lanes and other such basic safety stuff. I hate selfish drivers who think they are the only ones on the road but I thanked God that they were driving at a time when only a few others were on the road. Maybe they are self aware of their driving deficiencies and plan it that way, but I think I give them too much credit. I pulled into the driveway of your grandparents' house at 4:20 AM which isn't too shabby with the delays. Perhaps I was going a bit faster than I should have and maybe I was being a bit selfish on the road as well.
Your granddad met me saying, "Good to see you!" and gave me a big hug as he added, "Well at least this the good part!" I am nearly forty years old and a good hug from my dad is always welcomed. Remember that when you get older, as so many grow up and get into this "I am a man and we don't need to hug or show emotion" attitude. That attitude is utter bullshit and if more people could share a hug without embarrassment, with their father, or family, or even friends, the world would be a better place.
We had your great granddad up in a jiff and in his chair. We have it down to a science and unfortunately are more practiced at it than we would prefer. It had been awhile since his last fall so I guess we were due for another run. We checked for bumps or bruises and broken limbs and saw nothing of concern. Later your great grandma alerted us to some blood in his urine but the doctor we called thinks that is from the urinary tract infection we were already treating with meds and not from the fall. Either way we are keeping a close eye on things.
I was home and back in bed by 5:10 AM and I tried to squeeze in another three hours of sleep into the one and half hours I had before you normally get up. As it turns out, I snaked an extra thirty minutes on my last blink at 6:38 AM when I said I had two more minutes to sleep. The next thing I know it was 7:08 AM and we were running late. Thank goodness for your mom as she has an amazing ability to reclaim time in the morning by pushing you just a little faster. A minute here, two minutes there, no dilly dallying, she has an amazing gift for the efficient time management of a five year old that doesn't get everyone out of sorts like my hurry up strategy does. You were even dressed in Orioles orange and black for opening day.
When that call comes, no matter the time or day, we will be there to answer it to the best of our ability. It doesn't matter if we only had four hours of sleep, if the roads are icy or just hazardous with Maryland drivers, if it throws the entire schedule off, or what. When loved ones need us we will be there to help. It is the Downey way. It even goes beyond just family as the call to help may come from some of the most unusual places and at the most awkward and trying of times. My father taught me to serve and to help with a smile on your face. He taught me this by example throughout my life and I am glad that I can repay the favor even if it is just a fraction of what I owe the man. As your father, I hope to teach you this and teach you this well. For this is the basis of true human love that surpasses all the human attempts to define love. We all need to learn this and let our example bear witness to the power this love has to make life better even when we have fallen and cannot get up on our own.
Sincerely with love from your dad,