Why God Created Helmets

Today is my beloved daughter’s birthday. Yes, 26 years ago Kimberly found herself in a South London hospital: tired, bruised and somewhat hungry.

Fast forward for what seems like a long time to her and the blink of an eye to me, and yesterday she found herself in an East London hospital: still tired and hungry and even more bruised.

At a time she calls ‘last night’ and most of us would describe as ‘not-all-that-early-this-morning’, she was cycling home on her borrowed bicycle, with her 6’6″ friend on the back. Why he was on the back or, since he was on the back, why she was going so fast down that hill, are other matters. Ones which we won’t be discussing here. It is, after all, her birthday.

What happened next was entirely his fault, apparently, since he is the one who suddenly shifted his weight, causing her to lose her balance and them to both go flying. She landed on her head and rolled onto her shoulder. He landed on her and didn’t roll anywhere.

The very nice doctors at the hospital mentioned, several times, how fortunate it was that she was wearing the brand new helmet that her friends from work had just given her. The concussion, or worse, had been avoided and the scrapes, cuts and contusions would heal. So would the two torn ligaments in her left shoulder. Eventually. The friend was completely fine.

Her father and I got the call while playing a game of softball in Regent’s Park. I bet you didn’t see that coming.

When rain stopped play – mercifully, I felt, considering the score – we huddled under a tree and I informed my teammate and his wife that they had better get used to worrying because it never stopped. She, a woman who measures their son’s age in weeks rather than months or years, looked at me in something bordering on total astonishment and announced that she didn’t believe it was possible that her boy would ever be that old.

He will if you’re lucky, I thought. And if he wears a helmet.

After my fellow former Olympic Games Makers and I discussed the details of our next reunion (ice skating – we seem to specialise in sports that none of us can actually do), Tom and I went off to find our daughter, to reassure ourselves that she really was ok and – this being England – to make her a nice cup of tea.

Several traffic jams later, we arrived to find her looking extraordinarily pale, somewhat fragile, and rather battered. But, basically fine. The ice pack and sling were worrying me, though. I wasn’t sure how she was going to be able to unwrap her birthday present.


A new bicycle.

Thank you so much to everyone at work for buying her that helmet. And thank you Norman, our psychologist friend who specialises in head traumas, for planting the seed that a helmet might be a good idea. It only took a year to take root, but it did. In the veritable nick of time.

And Happy Birthday, Kimberly. May you have many, many more – please.

Not Leo Tolstoy (aka Eileen Riley)

This entry was posted in About Me, Children, Humour, Lifestyle and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

19 Responses to Why God Created Helmets

  1. Imogen Graham says:

    Look on the bright side – what would you have written about today if it wasn’t for Kimberly? Happy Birthday Kimberly – you certainly started your 26th year with a bang!

  2. Sue Brearley says:

    Gosh, Eileen, I’m so glad she’s OK. I’m still slightly traumatised at getting home from camp last week to discover that the 23-yr-old had left home lock stock and barrel whilst I was away. How will he survive? He has left his bicycle behind though…

  3. Bob Arms says:

    Whew! I was so thankful to hear the mostly positive outcome. Thank you for sharing.

  4. Victoria Dearborn says:

    Thank heavens for helmets and Kimberly’s nine lives! Xxxx

  5. Norman J. Cohen says:

    I am so happy that Kimberly is okay. As you know, it could have been much worse. I see it every day. Just knowing Kimberly is enough to put a smile on anyone’s face. Glad she will be putting smiles on faces for a long time to come!

    • Eileen Riley says:

      Well, it’s because of what you were saying last year when you came over for the Olympics that you won’t be having another patient. Now, we just have to get three more helmets and we’re done. Thanks so much Norman.

  6. Joanne Murphy says:

    Dear Eileen, so beautifully written, and an inspiration to everyone to wear helmets all the time. Looking forward to seeing you in September. xo Jo


    • Eileen Riley says:

      Thanks Jo. It could have ended very differently if she wasn’t wearing a helmet. Hope all the people who say they are going to wear one from now on, actually will (including me…).

  7. Angel Ojeda says:

    I was absolutely delighted when I saw your post and you are back. Great writing. I am glad Kimberly is okay and had a very memorable birthday.

  8. Harriet says:

    I think I detect a pattern. Suggest you don’t make any plans for Aug. 18, 2039.
    Seriously, I’m glad to hear that Kimberly is ok, or will be soon. A belated happy birthday to her.
    (Now throw away the helmet Kimberly was wearing — helmets are only good for one crash — and go get new ones for everyone in the family.)

  9. Brad says:

    Kids, eh? Glad to hear Kimberly is ok and that her parents are ok too. =) If you want I could stop by Play-it-again Sports and get Kimberly some shoulder pads… knee pads, elbow pads, etc… lol.

  10. Eileen Riley says:

    That’s a brilliant idea. Thanks Brad. I’ll sit by the door waiting for the parcel to arrive!

    • Brad says:

      Ya know, shipping is just too cost prohibitive, sorry. haha. You could always find her one of those eighties sport jackets and give it to her. Tell her it’s ‘vintage’ and she’ll love it! lol.

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