Monday, April 17, 2006

The Agony of Parenting

My father phoned this afternoon and our conversation shot me backwards in time evoking an insight which had eluded me on my move back to HLC (Holy Land Central) after a ten-year hiatus...

Back during Gulf War the 1st, I was here in HLC working for NBC News when Scuds started lobbing into Tel Aviv. It was Iraq's attempt at goading Israel into the heat.

Ask almost anyone who was here during that time and they'll tell you with detail what they were doing and how they felt during those seemingly endless first-night-of-missiles moments. Being terrified has a way of sticking with our brains' clarity department. Funny thing is that we sometimes forget the stricken feelings of our associates in other locales.

A month after that first missile night a videotape made its way into my hands. "From the NBC affiliate station in Cincinnati," the cover stated. I knew what was on it.

That first Scud night, anxious relatives across the U.S. who couldn't get in touch with loved ones living in Israel due to phone line congestion, gathered at a local synagogues to pray and wait out the frustration together. My parents - awaiting word from three of their four children living in missile hit areas - were among them.

Local news producers raced to synagogues to lasso interview candidates and found my parents - wide eyed and willing to accompany them downtown for a live interview at WLWT's studios.

In hindsight I'm almost sorry I viewed that tape. Because forever frozen in my memory is the image of my father sitting on that television set ashen-faced, distracted, terrified and distraught as he absent-mindedly answered questions about his three children living in Tel Aviv and Haifa. He didn't yet know that we were all unscathed.

Today he phoned about the bombing. Initially hearing the inflection in his voice I asked: "Dad, is everything okay?"

I was going to ask you the same, he replied.

"Oh yeah. We're fine," I answered. "We don't really go to that part of town much."

And I hung up the phone realizing: Wow. Here they go again. A child in Israel. The worry is back. And the memory of that videotape returned and tears sprung to my eyes. What we put them through inadvertently.

1 comment:

sistamar said...

this is a heartbreaking read. the torture this evil and insanity bring to innocent parents, friends, and other loved ones (and even mere acquaintances) is hard to manage. words, gestures, prayers -- can these really remove the pain of shock and, as you show, of memory? as i eventually ceased to be a fulltime adolescent... i began to recognize the high price of loving and caring for moi. your dad, your folks, i trust, have read your utterly tender, sensitive piece.