I received a phone call from my older brother on Sunday afternoon.
"Don't worry, everyone's okay.... but I've just been in a car accident with Mum and Dad"
As conversational openings go, that certainly got my attention.
My parents have been visiting my brother and his family to celebrate Mothers Day. They had been travelling for a walk before lunch with my brother driving when they collided with another car. Given that the roof and all the supporting struts had to be cut from the car by the fire brigade before they could be taken to hospital, it's remarkable that no one was more seriously hurt. My brother walked away with only the bruises from his seat belt and my mum was released from hospital on Monday with bruises and some "minor" cracks in her spine that may actually have been there already. Sounds pretty horrible, but apparently it's a lot less painful than when she slipped a disc. My dad is still in hospital. He's been on blood thinning drugs and the collision saw an artery in his chest rupture and lots of blood leaking into his chest cavity. Apparently, so he proudly told me whilst high as a kite on morphine, it have him a D-cup on one side of his chest. He's okay, I'm told, but just waiting to see what needs to happen to secure the artery and make sure everything is okay. He was most perturbed to have lost his ridiculously large "phablet" smartphone to be honest, and since he got that back he's been busy chatting to all his church pals on Facebook.
My dad is a doctor, so he tends to make a terrible patient: always full of comment and criticism of his treatment and what he would be doing instead. He's always been pretty unsympathetic with his family too. If he's concerned about you, you know you must be ill, and I can only really remember that three times in my life: when I had measles and pneumonia together when I was about thirteen, when I had glandular fever and when I started exhibiting the symptoms of what was later diagnosed as MS (he initially thought I could have broken my neck).
My mum told me an interesting story when I spoke to her on Monday though. Apparently, she was stuck in the car waiting to be cut out for around an hour. My father, who for the last twenty years of his career worked in Occupational Medecine, joked that as he'd worked with the Cambridgeshire fire brigade, he might well know some of the firemen they were waiting for and how terribly embarrassing that would be. When the firemen arrived, as my dad was bleeding, they focused on getting him out first. As my mum was waiting, in pain and getting cold, she was comforted by one of the firemen who kept her warm and held her hand.
"I'm only here because of your husband, you know"
Apparently, a few years before, this guy had been through a really messy break-up and had really hit the rails. The brigade had wanted to get rid of him as too much trouble, but my father played a critical role in convincing them that he was worth the trouble and that he could be helped. He then provided some of that practical help.
"I haven't had a drink in three years and gave up smoking a year ago. I owe your husband my career"
I don't see that side of my dad very often, but it's nice to hear a story like that and good to know that his care and compassion was repaid a little further down the line.