Whenever I would call my parents, my mother usually answered the phone. If my father answered, the conversation would go something like this:
Dad: "How ya doing? How's the kids?"
Me: "Fine, Fine."
Dad: "I suppose you want to talk to your mother."
Then he would put the phone down and yell for my mother to come to the phone.
In person, when we were together, my father and I could talk about anything. But talking on the phone was not his thing.
Whenever I would phone my Mom, the conversation would always start off exactly the same way.
Mom: "Where have you been?!"
Mom: "Oh? Because I haven't heard from you."
Me: "Ma, I called you two days ago."
Mom: "Well, why didn't you call me yesterday?"
Me: "Why didn't you call me yesterday?"
Mom: "Because I'm the mother. You're supposed to call me."
After we got that out of the way, we could then proceed onto other things.
From my earliest memories I was her confidant.
Being married to my father was not easy, as she so often would tell me.
My father's mother, his sisters and brother did not like my mother, as she so often would tell me.
My brother was evil and abusive to her, as she so often would tell me.
Her friend Josephine was crazy, as she so often would tell me.
Even though, most of the time I was the listener, she was also my confidant. She always knew how I was feeling or when something was bothering me.
"What's wrong, Lynda?", she would say.
My son would very rarely call me. I, unlike my mother, knew that if I wanted to hear his voice or find out how he was doing I would have to be the one to call. That was fine with me.
Okay I have to admit some of my mom's guilt lessons must have penetrated because this is how the conversation usually went:
Me: "Hi Joe."
Joe: "Hi Ma."
Me: "How are you doing?"
Me: "How's work?"
Me: "Doing anything special this weekend?"
Joe: "No, not really."
Me: "Well I haven't heard from you lately, so I figured I would give you a call to see how you were doing." (Just stopping short of "You know you could call your poor ol' mother every once in a while.")
Joe: A little giggle. "I'm doing fine." (And I knew he got the message).
One of the last phone calls I received from Joe went something like this:
Joe: "Hi, Ma." (sounding very weak)
Me: "Hi Joe." (very happy to hear his voice)
Joe: "Are you guys doing anything the next couple of days?"
Me: "No, no plans, why?"
Joe: "Well I have a ridiculous request. Do you think you could come over and stay with me and Domani? Anne has to go out of town."
Me: "Of course we can, Joe. And NO that is not a ridiculous request. What time should we be there?"
When I think about that conversation now, I understand how hard it must have been for him to admit that he would not be able to take care of his son and would probably need help himself. I guess that was what seemed ridiculous to him.
Christmas day included visits to my Mom and Dad and Joe.
They are all in the same place now.
The conversation I had with each of them was brief, silent and one sided.
Me: Oh Mom, Oh Dad I miss you.
Me: Oh my Joey.
Even though it has been two years since my mom died, sometimes I forget and I will have the thought, Uh oh, it's been awhile since I called Ma, I better...and then I remember.
It has not been a month since Joey passed away. The painful and cruel reality is still too new for me to forget that I will never again be able to hear him say "Hi Ma." "Yes, I'm fine."
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