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OUT FOR REPAIR

broken4I have loads to say about my father’s leg amputation last week. My emotions have been all over the place and hours in hospital waiting rooms inspire all sorts of writing ideas. Unfortunately, some of it will have to wait for a bit while I nurse a broken left wrist. Alas, I am but a cliche. I slipped in the tub, and life has just taken a definite change of course.

Typing with one hand isn’t easy, particularly if you’re groggy from pain medication. But trust me, the words are going to find a way out, even if I have to use my voice recognition software.

There are stories to be told – not to mention angst-loaded essays on the Ontario health system.

Watch this space.

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We tend towards being headstrong in my family. In fact, one of my sisters, angry at my mother, once threatened to run away. She was no more than six or seven at the time.

Parenting methods were tough back then and my mother called her bluff. She found a bag and helped my sister pack. My mother walked her to the door and my sister broke down in tears. She learned a lesson. From that point, she realized she didn’t want to leave home. Unfortunately, she took something else from the experience: her perception, then at least, that my mother didn’t care if she left.

As parents, we’ve all been tempted to do exactly what my mother did at least once or twice. That temptation can be overwhelming once our children become teenagers and start challenging house rules on a regular basis. But if we help our child “pack,” are we prepared to deal with the possible consequences?

Yesterday, in Barrie, Ontario, Steve and Angelika Crisp, along with two thousand other mourners, gathered to honour the life of their fifteen year-old son, Brandon. Their sorrow was mirrored elsewhere in Canada, by people who never knew Brandon or his family, but who had agonized with them, and prayed for his safe return. 

He’d been gone since Thanksgiving weekend, when his ongoing obsession with a particular Xbox game became the focus of a heated family argument. The Xbox was taken away, and Brandon became furious. He said he was leaving and never coming back. His dad, certain that Brandon would be home before dark, helped him pack.

Steve and Angelika Crisp never saw their son alive again.

The search for Brandon was extensive and lasted thirty days. People by the hundreds volunteered to search on foot. Helicopters and canine units scoured the area. Every day there was news of another possible sighting, but each lead went nowhere. The media shouted his disappearance in every way they could. Even “America’s Most Wanted” took up the cause. All this while his friends and family held their collective breath, and prayed.

On November 5, Brandon was finally found. Not the victim of foul play as was suspected, he likely died from a fall. His body was discovered in a forested area just a few kilometres from his home. It was a tragic end to the month long search for the young runaway.

No one’s fault, of course. Nothing that could ever have been predicted. Children and teenagers threaten to leave home all the time, and ninety-nine percent of them remember to return for dinner. But for Brandon Crisp’s parents, those odds don’t matter, and therein lies the tragedy.

My heart breaks for them.

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