Never Stopped Listening

“My parents told me a story that encapsulates Pappy’s paternal psychology completely.  As a baby, I was with my mother in our old home in Newark, crawling freely while she was trying to clean and watch after my very active five-year-old brother. We were upstairs, on the second floor of the house. At one end of the room, there was a door that led out into the hallway and down a long flight of carpeted stairs onto the parlor level, where my father had his study and received visitors.  I was a quiet baby, and it wouldn’t have been odd for me to not be making much noise as I crawled.  Somehow, my mother had gotten distracted with my brother, and I made my way over to the door, which wasn’t properly closed.  I got out into the hallway and soon began tumbling down the staircase in a bright blue bundle of diapers and pajamas, rushing toward the hardwood floor below.  As my mother gaped from the landing above, the door to my father’s study flew open and out dove Pappy to catch me like a fly ball before I reached the ground.  He had been in the middle of a meeting when suddenly he hopped up, told his guests to wait, and bolted to the door.  He almost certainly saved my life that morning.

“‘How in the world did you even hear that?’ one of the stunned guests asked him afterward.

“‘I’ve been listening for that sound from the moment we brought the baby home from the hospital,’ Pappy said.

“I grew up knowing that no matter where I was or what I was doing, Pappy never stopped listening for the sound of me falling.”

Williams, Thomas Chatterton, “Losing My Cool: How a Father’s Love and 15,000 Books Beat Hip-Hop Culture”;  New York (2010): The Penguin Press, pp 33-34.