Daughter’s trip to Lebanon makes Dad’s worrymeter spike
I write this at my daughter and son-in-law’s house, where I am assigned for the afternoon. It’s a day midway between Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. My job today was to do something about their faulty refrigerator. So here I am waiting for an appliance repairman, who can do more than worry about why the thing doesn’t work. He can fix it.
It’s not just the refrigerator that’s on my mind. I’m a parent. And it’s true what they tell you when your kids are born: You never stop worrying about them. My daughter is 26 and married, a productive member of society and yet I worry. This week more than most.
Over the years, I’ve noticed that the worry quotient rises with the distance between us. It works like this: If we’re all sitting together around the dinner table, the worry factor is low, perhaps non-existent. If she’s out of sight, but still within the state, that’s OK. If she’s out of state, maybe not so much. Out of the country, and one, at least this one, begins to worry. Out of the country and in a part of the world where at least some of the people with a lot of animosity toward Americans live, and the worry meter pegs.
That’s where we are this week — staring straight at a worrymeter that has nowhere left to go. Liz and Sam are in Lebanon. Before returning home they’ll also visit Syria.
There’s little doubt she’s visiting a fascinating part of the world. As I sit here awaiting the repairman, she is touring the location where Jesus turned water into wine. That sacred location is somewhere in the Middle East. A quick trip around Google failed to locate exactly where, leading me to wonder whether Cana is something akin to all the places George Washington spent the night.
The rational me knows there is nothing to worry about. Beirut circa 2010 is nothing like it was in the latter quarter of the 20th century, when an estimated 200,000 people died in a bloody civil war. And it’s a good 100 kilometers or so from the Israeli border, an area tourists are advised to avoid.
And besides, they are there as guests of a prominent Lebanese family. One of the sons is a good friend of Liz and Sam’s. His wedding is the reason for the trip.
For 25 years, a framed edition of The New York Times from Oct. 24, 1983, hung in my office. Now, since I retired, it hangs in my studio. Oct. 24, 1983, was not just a memorable day because Liz happened to be born that day. It was also the day that Islamic Jihad bombed the U.S. Embassy in Beirut, killing 299 people, most of them Marines.
That was long before 9/11, and haven’t we been told over and over that the world is a much more dangerous place today than it was on and before Sept. 10, 2001? And isn’t it true that Hezbollah, a group that the United States officially declares to be a terrorist organization, is a recognized faction of the Lebanese government? And isn’t it true that Liz sent us an e-mail today telling us about last night, when she and Sam went to a club in a renovated bomb shelter? And isn’t it true that her hotel window provides a view of the bombed out hulk of the building next door?
Yes, that’s all true.
But there’s another thing we’ve been told post-9/11. It’s that we have to continue to live our lives. If we don’t then the terrorists win. One of the many freedoms we enjoy is the ability to move around the world as we want.
Yet we worry. That’s what parents do. Liz and Sam’s trip may give her mother and me an extra gray hair or two. But there’s really no good reason for that. The odds are still very much in our favor. And it’s worth the trade-off. Liz and Sam’s lives will be just a little richer after this week. And they’ll come home to a fully functioning refrigerator.