When I was little and I fell, which was often, my mom or dad would patch me up. There was a ritual to their ministrations. First, tears (and there were always tears) were wiped. Then the wound (and there was pretty much always a wound) would be gently cleaned with a wet washcloth (with the requisite kiss to make it better as a topper). Bactine was applied (oh, the gloriously medicinal smell of Bactine, sprayed straight from its green-capped bottle), followed by a Band-aid.
I can remember being very size-conscious where Band-aids were concerned, favoring a big one because it seemed to suggest a more serious injury which required more strenuous love and attention. But I also enjoyed the smaller Band-aids, the teeny tiny ones with their teeny tiny gauze, for messy splinters, small blisters, and the like. Pretty much any situation that called for a Band-aid, requiring my mom or my dad to bend over my hurt and focus all of their healing powers on me, was a situation I could get behind (as long as it didn’t hurt too much, of course). If the wound resulted in a scar that called for the repeating of a story (which grew in size and significance with each telling), all the better.
(Our across-the-street neighbor once hit me in the head with a crowbar when we were playing in my sister’s room and opened the skin above my right eye in a shocking and messy way. I can remember rushing down the hall to try to get a good look in the bathroom mirror and being intercepted by my dad who detoured me to my parents’ room for the ritual (tears, wound, Band-aids and all). I still regret not making it to the bathroom mirror and I love to tell the story when someone notices the scar. I honestly don’t know if there really was a crowbar, seems unlikely these many years later.)
This is all to say that while I was taking a morning jog in Alpine, Texas today, I got a boo boo. I’m calling it a boo boo because it really is one – a giant round bloody scrape of a boo boo on my right knee. I tripped and flew across the pavement and landed on my knee, with a skid across my right elbow along the way. This hasn’t happened to me in a long time, a scrape like this. In fact, I think the last time was when I was a kid. And as I picked myself up and headed back to my hotel, I thought about those childhood scrapes and scratches and of the smell of Bactine and the peeling and applying of Band-aids. And of my mom and dad kissing it (whatever hurt “it” might be) and making it better.
Which made me think of my dad specifically. There are three people in the world, myself included, who know better than anyone how good Johnny Rocket was at the fatherly job of healing hurts, big and small. Applying medicinals. He was really really good at it.
You never stop missing people. Some wounds just refuse to heal.
But I did buy myself some Bactine. And pretty much the biggest Band-aid you’ve ever seen. That helped.