As some of you know, my mother had a stroke as a complication to surgery back in 2002, and has various health problems, some quite serious, since then. This conversation isn’t about my mother, who is currently doing no better or worse than usual, but her condition, I think, played a role in this:

Me: Hello?

Dad: Hi, I’m calling to let you know that I’m fine.

Me: Okay….Wait, is there some reason to think you weren’t fine?

Dad: No one told you?

Me: Told me what?

Dad: I’ve been in the hospital these past two days.

Me thinking: What? I just talked to him two days ago!

Dad: My heart was fluttering and I was dizzy, so I went to the ER. They kept me over night. They decided I was just dehydrated. I’m fine.

Me: No one told me.

Dad: Good, then you didn’t worry.

Me: No, no one told me. That worries me.

My mom, as with many stoke victims, has undergone cognitive and emotional changes. She calls to see if we’re okay when she hears on TV that there has been storms in Kansas or Arkansas or Illinois or Iowa, because, you see, those states border Missouri. If there’s storm near in St. Louis, she keeps calling until she gets one of us. So, the fact that she didn’t call about my dad puzzles and worriesme. It also worries me that he didn’t think to call, although I’m not sure what condition he was in at the time.

You see, he usually keeps me in the loop. When I was a freshman in college, he called me about 10:00 PM one night to tell me that he was in the hospital and the doctors were trying to figure out whether he had a fatal case of meningitis or a bad case of pneumonia. Freaking out, I asked him how soon it would take them to figure it out. “The doctor told me that if I’m alive in the morning, it’s not meningitis. Lab results would tell us for sure, but he says if it’s meningitis I’ll likely be dead before they come back. I haven’t told your mother and sister and please don’t tell them, but I figured you’re old enough now so you ought to know.” That was a long, long night. For both of us.

A few years later, dad called me to me that he, his partners, and a sheriff’s deputy were going to spend the night waiting for a run-away Los Angles cop. (Dad spent 29 years in the FBI.) The LA cop was an abusive husband and about nine months earlier his had fled and gone into hiding in our small Colorado mountain town. He’d tracked her down, had told her he was coming to kill her, and as far as the LA police could tell, he’d left town with his body armor, his service and personal handguns, rifles, and shotguns. (The FBI was involved because of the interstate threat death threat.)

There was nothing to worry about, dad told me, because everyone–police, sheriff, highway patrol, FBI, etc.–between California and Colorado had been notified and looking for this guy, but if he did make it to the house they were waiting in, they’d be wearing their body armor, had their shotguns and service handguns, and they’d specifically requested the sheriff deputy who would be with them because they knew he could handle himself. (Both dad and his partner were certified FBI firearms instructors and regularly trained and oversaw qualification exams for local law enforcement officers in our region of western Colorado, so they should know.) The cop never did make it to Colorado–I think they found him en route in Utah, in case your wondering. Dad hadn’t told my mom or sister about this one until after the fact, but again, he told me.

While I knew my dad’s job could be dangerous he didn’t start telling me things like this, worrisome things, before the results where know, until I started college. (The one time my mom actually had concrete cause for worry was on May 17, 1974 when she saw him on TV, running across the screen with his shotgun at the Symbionese Liberation Army shootout. Dad never fired his weapon there (he has only had to do that once, when a fugitive tried to run over another FBI agent), but he was there and mom saw him on TV.) But once he started telling me before the fact, I don’t believe I’ve ever gotten an after-the-fact-notification until now. And this bothers me.