Saturday, October 27, 2012

A phone call from my dead mother...

I walked into a Sports Bar at LAX, headed straight towards my husband who sat watching a game, my wheeled luggage in tow behind me.  Just as I leaned over his table to speak to him, my phone rang. Straightening up, I pulled my IPhone out of my back pocket looking to see who was calling.

Patty Dobbins...

I stared at the screen.  

Patty Dobbins...

Time stood still.

Patty Dobbins...

I held the screen up for my husband to see.  His mouth dropped open.

Slowly I slid my finger across the arrow on the screen and quietly, very tentatively said, "hello?"  

I quickly walked out into the concourse away from the noise of the bar.

A young woman's voice answered, "Hello, who is this?  You called me.  Who is this?"

"No, I did not call you.  Who is this?  You are calling from my mother's phone" I accused.

"I'm Tiffany. No, this is my phone.  I'm calling from my number 503-701-****. You called me."

"No, that number is my mother's phone number.  You are calling from my dead mother's phone."

Silence hung in the air.

"I'm sorry", I continued, "my mother died last July and that phone number is hers.  She's on my phone. It says Patty Dobbins!"

"I...I just got this phone and number about four weeks ago.  This is my new number.  You called me" she stuttered.

"Well, I didn't call you.  I'm at an airport and was just reading while my phone was charging in a recharge station here at LAX. I'm sorry. My dad has her phone. Maybe he lost it." 

"Was it an IPhone?  I have a new IPhone and this is my new number" she questioned. 

"No, my mom didn't have an IPhone.  My dad has her phone. I'm sorry.  Maybe they gave you my mom's number. Maybe I accidentally dialed her number" I apologized. 

What followed was more awkward confusing conversation with death and phone numbers hanging in the air.  

Then it was time to board.  I said I was sorry again.  I hung up and had to rush to get in line to board.

I couldn't really process it then.  

I've thought about it a lot since.  

I found out my dad had canceled her number with AT&T. He still has her phone.

I've wondered if Tiffany likes knowing that her new number is a dead woman's phone number.  Does it bother her?

I wish my mother would call me...I wish she could.  

I miss her. I was so busy being mad at her these last few years that I didn't see she was dying.  

In some ways my mother died very quickly.  From diagnosis to her death was about three months.  But as I look back shuffling through my memories, she had begun dying...slowly...shutting down...long before.  

My friend, Lauren, who knows about death, real loss, raw and fierce tells me grief is like a tidal wave. It will hit washing over us causing us to choke and sputter when we least expect it.  I am finding this to be true.

I was at the airport when I got the "call from my dead mother" because we had gone to visit our second daughter.  I was so excited to see her and meet her new boyfriend.  But when I stood in the kitchen of our friend's home where we were staying, a tidal wave hit me.

So unexpected was this wave that it took me a minute to figure out why tears were streaming down my face.  The last time I had been in that very kitchen was my daughter's college graduation party.  

My father, traveling from home, had been there, but not my mother.  She had chosen to stay home because she had had surgery on her face.  My mother was, admittedly, vain.  She didn't want anyone to see her with bandages on her face.  So she missed out.  

And ...CRASH...I realized she would never come to this place and see this beautiful home and meet our wonderful friends.  

Not ever.  

She would never meet my daughter's love.  She wouldn't be at any of their weddings, or graduations, or Christmas's or Easters.  Not ever.

It was too late.

Tidal Wave.  And the waves crashed over me all weekend.

I wish my mother could call me.  
I would tell her I love her.  
I would tell her I'm sorry for not understanding her.  
I would tell her I tried to make her happy when I was a girl, then again as a young mother, but finally I gave up. 

And maybe that's when she began dying. 

I would tell her I am sorry I couldn't help her.  

1 comment:

Carrie said...

Oh, wow. That's crazy. (((Hugs)))