Sunday, February 16, 2014

All You Have to Do is Call

I was saying goodbye to my mother at the end of our weekly phone call last week when she said, "Tell everyone there I said hello!"  I opened my mouth to respond in kind and had to choke back those duplicate words.  It's a reflex, this response...even though it will be two years in May the last time I said those words, knowing that she would deliver the message to my dad.

I think back on those phone conversations sometimes.  
Daddy wasn't much for small talk so the telephone wasn't his first choice of communication, especially not the weekly catch-up call.  He was my "go to," however, anytime I needed advice or to share my deepest joys or sorrows.  Then, no matter the distance, he listened compassionately and delivered the most beautiful, heartfelt advice and support.  These moments more than made up for the moments we suffered through together with the mundane "So, what's going on there?" 
"How's the weather been?" 
"What are the kids up to?"

Not often, much later in his life - but every now and then, I'm ashamed to admit - 
I would occasionally and secretly hope that he would be napping when I called...
or eating lunch...
or just not in the mood to talk.  
It wasn't often, mind you, but there were moments that provided such a reality check, trying to converse with him in the later stages of his Alzheimer's.  Those moments could be difficult to navigate without sounding patronizing.  But most times that were lovely, and I would sometimes jot down our conversations as we spoke...
just little highlights that would strike me as poignant or amusing.  

I found a documented snippet of one of those conversations in my desk drawer two days ago. Daddy had asked about "the children and your husband." I knew most days he may not know which of his five daughters he was speaking to or what that daughter's family's names were...he may not have even known my name that day, depending on his clarity of mind. But in this instance, at least his mood was terrific. He clearly thought this a message worth conveying:

"They take care of you and you take care of them.  And if someone comes around and does this for me, I'll get lunch!"

Then he cackled gleefully in his very Irish manner, and I laughed right along.  Leave it to Daddy to end our conversation detailing his intention of showing generosity in repayment for a kindness.  That was him...just life.

As I fingered this little note, jotted on a scrap sheet of paper detailing my choice of business card designs from Tiny Prints, I realized how much that wrinkled, mess of a piece of paper had come to mean to me.  
That it chronicled, I think, the next to the last conversation I ever had with my dad.  
I thought of how I would give almost anything to be able to say to my mom these days, 
"Tell Daddy I said hello" 
"Give Daddy my love"  
"Can Daddy talk a minute?  I just want to hear his voice."  
I wish I had asked every time.  
I wish I had waited to call till after his nap every time.  
I wish I had listened to the frequent whisper on my heart, 
"Be still...
just speak...
and listen...
the content doesn't matter, only the reaching out," 
each. and. every. time.

What I wouldn't give...

I wrote this today, not just as a reminder for me, but for each of you, dear friends.
To encourage you to make the time for those you love and who love you in return.
To remind you to be still.
To listen.
To reach out.
To hearken to the sound of your heart each and every time it whispers for you to take a moment...make a call....make the time...say I love you.

You'll be so very happy you did.

{Squeeze someone you love today.
Thanks for reading.}

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