Telephone Time Again

I dread this: I have to call Dad in Pennsylvania – I haven’t spoken to him in about 5 days. I want to work as usual of course, but my mind will be pre-occupied until I get this over with once more. I can’t really ring him before 12 noon UK time.

My phone, and a coffee, a little while ago. [Photo by me, 2016.]
My phone, and a coffee, a little while ago. [Photo by me, 2016.]

For all the years I’ve been living over here, in fact since I was a college kid, my mother was the one with whom I did most of the parental talking on the phone. She was the center of it all: information was shared with her, and she then told him. Only rarely did I talk to him for any length of time; he was never a big phone user.

Now, with Mom gone (it’s nearly 3 months since her death), there’s no other choice. He gets emotional at times, but tries to control himself. I hear it unmistakably in his voice. And his tone isn’t as firm as it used to be.

And that gets me emotional and I have to hold it together. I always pre-plan conversational topics to hit upon so there aren’t “awkward” silences between us. He gave up on weekly bereavement counseling, saying he got nothing out of it. I suspect he gave it up because he didn’t want to sit around a table with a dozen other people talking about their own grief over their own dead spouses; that it led him to think too much and upset him even more. He’s not the sort of a man “to share” his “feelings” anyway and never has been.

Everyone handles monumental life loss their own way. I won’t tell him what to do: I just go with the flow based on what I hear from his end. The NFL playoffs might be one diversion; the winter weather is perhaps another; how things are with family here is another.

He has my mother’s urn containing her ashes sitting on the mantelpiece over the lounge fireplace. He won’t go up to bed at night. He sleeps on the sofa (where she had spent most of her final months) opposite her cremains.

UPDATE: 12:50pm UK time: Well, I made the call. Dad sounded okay. Up and down as usual. Lots of NFL talk. Bits about the family, and this and that.

It’s never “an hour.” He holds up his end of the conversation, and then, when he’s had enough – after about 10-15 minutes, max – I suddenly get an, “Okay, I’ll talk to you next week….”

So different from my late mother, bless her. Mom could go on and on and on on the phone. Also, occasionally she displayed rather a vivid imagination, and never hesitated to say *exactly* what was going through her mind. 🙂

Excerpt from "Distances," on the iPad app for Kindle. Click to expand.
Excerpt from “Distances,” on the iPad app for Kindle. Click to expand.

We’ll always miss her.