Dad was always a bit of the paranoid type, and the crime reports were one of his favorite sections of the newspaper. There were plenty of kooks in California, and there never seemed to be a shortage of high-profile crimes being reported.
Fortunately, the worst I can remember happening to our family was my mom’s purse getting snatched when I was about four. Dad was at work at the time, and we were just outside the grocery store. My mom was probably checking her receipt and had set down her purse next to her on the bench when the thief swooped in. I remember a rush of air, my mom exclaiming that the man took her purse, and my little legs pumping after the guy. That’s right, a preschooler who’s a crime fighter! Needless to say, I did not catch him.
Even as an adult, when I talked to Dad on the phone, and after we got the usual talk of the weather out of the way, Dad would want to know how I got to and from work and if there were other people around. He would always tell me to be careful. The fatherly advice usually just annoyed me.
When Dad went into the nursing home, most of the time he recognized Mom but as the months went by, he became more distant. Still, as she prepared to end the visit and endure the long bus ride back home, Dad would tell her, “You be careful now.”
He was still trying to protect her, even when he couldn’t do it himself anymore.