Every family has its own hero. They come in all shapes, sizes and ages. Sometimes, very unexpectedly. This is a story of how Bluey, my 92 year old father, became my hero on a day of bomb threats and blisters.
Monday Feb 21 – 2011. A day of strange disruptions in Perth.
I had a lovely weekend of cat sitting in the hills at Chateau de Liswar while Warren and Lisa took overseas friends to Rottnest, and I came home mid morning to try and sort out some communication issues with Telstra. A planned Skype conference was deferred and I used Twitter on the iPhone to push my case along with them. With a short window of opportunity in the afternoon, I wrote two of the three stories that had a rapidly closing deadline.
In the early evening, I jumped into the car to drive into Perth for a networking meeting with a group of LinkedIn friends I had been dying to meet for ages. To my absolute surprise, the radio announced that the city was in lock down; a bomb alert had the CBD completely shut down and it was not recommended that anyone try to drive into the city centre.
The train seemed to be a better option
So, I decided to take the train. I told my father, got the required warnings about being careful, and set off on foot. The train is about four minutes walk from our home and runs very frequently. I arrived just in time to hop aboard and checked what was happening on Twitter.
As we approached the city, I held up my iPhone and addressed the passengers at large – telling them about the bomb threat and that I was getting off at McIver, to walk into the CBD. Central Station was closed, so there was no way of knowing how far past the main station the passengers would be taken before they could get off the train.
Not one other person followed me off the train at McIver. Most people just sat, with a stunned look on their faces. They had no idea what to do.
Walking in stilettos – what was I thinking?
I walked quite a distance into the CBD to find our networking event; I had a really good time, confounding some of my friends when a very nice lawyer from Adelaide insisted in buying my drinks. That was a hoot. However, I did take the time to welcome him and introduce him to my friends.
After a couple of hours, took my leave to walk back to the train and then home. By the time I left, my feet were hurting – we had been standing the whole time – and I had quite a walk back to the railway station.
At Carlisle, I got off the train. It was very dark – but not raining. I walked down the ramp, crossed the line because it is an island platform and started to walk along the road next to the railway line. I walked alongside the railway line for ages. My feet were hurting.
I was lost. My navigation skills are legendary (not).
I did not recognise any of the buildings in the dark and finally I found a street sign: Rutland Street. I had no idea where I was.
It was almost 9:00pm; dark; in a dangerous part of the city. I used my iPhone maps to find my location and found I was literally on the wrong side of the tracks. Not only was I on the wrong side of the tracks, I was walking in the wrong direction.
I had turned right instead of left on the platform. I had turned right to walk away from home, instead of left to walk towards home.
Once I knew where I was, I phoned my Dad, who was waiting for me at home. My Dad is 92 and not too steady on his feet these days. But pretty good apart from that.
I managed to walk to the next railway station (Oats Street) which was closer than the one I had left (Carlisle), cross the line and start heading off for home.
By now, my feet were badly blistered and I had to take my shoes off and start walking barefoot towards home.
My father was missing. Lost?
It took about 30 minutes to complete the trip – only to find my father was not there. I knew immediately he must have gone looking for me – worried about me being out alone. A couple of quick trips around the block and I found him, waving his torch about and checking in the bushes.
When he got into the car, he had an extraordinary story to finish off the night. While I was tottering along the footpath, barefoot and avoiding glass and other obstacles, inside my handbag, my phone had hit the redial button. My Dad had answered the phone, only to hear muffled noises and what sounded like a struggle. He thought I was being mugged – and came to rescue me! My hero!
Safely home, I soaked my blistered feet in hot salted water; we shared a couple of glasses of wine and I wondered what would have become of us if I really had been attacked.
Our personal safety is something we tend to take a little for granted, sometimes. My Dad tends sometimes to overestimate his physical ability, given his age.
What do you think? Do our fathers and husbands really understand their physical limitations, as they get older? Do you think their instinct to protect and guard their family sometimes overrides their true capabilities?
My father is definitely our family hero. Everyone you meet has their untold story about Bluey, and will tell you of how he stepped up when needed.
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