Occasionally I phone my dad in Cape Breton to see how he is. He is also an introvert who doesn’t like phones. Where do you think I inherited the trait? Still, it’s good to connect to hear his voice and make sure he’s doing okay as email and Facebook does create more of a distance and is easier to ignore. My mom was the complete opposite to me and absolutely adored the phone. She always had a phone hanging out of her ear and loved to chat for ages, getting caught up on gossip or the latest news. She would talk loudly at the top of her lungs. I always knew who she was talking to by the way she would match her accent, expression and tone to the person she was talking to. It was such a thrill for her to hear all her messages from the answering machine from her phone loving friends. She would often call me and in later years she used a speaker phone which made me feel even more self conscious. The speaker phone picked up everything happening at their place such as the cats meowing, the crows squawking and the rain pounding on the roof of their sunporch, her most favourite place to be. My father would be listening in while she did most of the talking. He would grunt and make the occasional comment, whenever he could get a word in.
My mom used to love calling me every Monday morning to get the Monday report as she liked to call it, where we would get caught up on news. One Monday morning, November 16, 2015, the telephone rang. I went to answer it and all I heard was a thump of a phone falling and my father calling out “Berni!” After what seemed ages, he finally he picked up the phone and told me that my mom had collapsed. He said he’d have to call for some help. I’m still amazed at how calm he was at the time. He called back later and confirmed that my mom had died instantly of a massive stroke.
My friend Kay is a very religious person and has a good way of framing the death. She said it was a special gift that I was with my mother during her last moments and was the last person she was thinking about when she made the call. It’s comforting to think of it that way. Almost three years have passed since my mom died. I still miss her and think about her. She wasn’t an easy mother and we were very different in temperament which led to many misunderstandings. But I know she loved me and she was always supportive.
These days, long distance calls are so easy and quick compared to 1974 when I made my first call with the operator. Technology has advanced so much in 44 years. I’m stubborn and will always choose email, chat and Facebook before making any kind of phone call. Still, I’d do anything to receive another one of my mother’s Monday report phone calls, just to hear her voice once again.