Day Twenty One: Knowing When to Call My Dad

I talked to Elle last night.

She was sharing her observations about my Dad and his phone habits. So many people have been calling my Dad and I was afraid that he might be getting a little overwhelmed by the redundant questions about his emotional status, his health, what he plans to do next, etc. Plus there are a few emotional friends that call him to cry. They want my Dad to comfort them, and I find this unacceptable. During one of my visits to my Dad's apartment, I answered the phone and was faced with one such friend. I abruptly ended the conversation and hung up the receiver before the poor woman could let out a jagged, tearful breath.

But Elle was saying that he was okay, that he actually enjoyed talking on the phone. And when she said this, I felt the blood rushing to my face.

What? My Dad likes to talk on the phone? This irked me because whenever I called it seemed like he was rushing me off the phone. Was I bothering him? Was he bored of me?

To call or not to call. That has been my question these days.

I've never been good on the phone. I stutter. I talk over the other person. Worst of all, I talk loudly. And my Dad--oh, brother. He's a bit hard of hearing. English is not his first language. And he's often thinking of how he's going to respond to a question that you asked him ten minutes ago--if you are lucky enough to have him on the phone that long.

Despite my horrible phone manner, I used to have long conversations with my Mom on the phone. It was easy talking to her.  But in the middle of our talk she would force my Dad to say hi to me. She probably felt guilty spending all that time on the phone, ignoring my Dad and the things she was suppose to do for them (or really just him). So the rhythm of our conversation was interrupted by his forced presence on the other end of the phone, my stutters, and his apropos of nothing. After a few awkward minutes, my Mom would get back on the phone and I would let out an inaudible sigh of relief.

But back to my conversation with Elle. After getting an earful of my complaints, she made me realize that he was getting overwhelmed not by overly emotional friends but by his own kids. We were asking the redundant questions.

Did you take your medicine this morning?
What did you have for breakfast, lunch, dinner?
Did you go for a walk?
What are you doing today?

Egads. After the funeral I was calling him three times a day: right when I woke up, at lunch time, and right before I went to bed. If Elle and Liza were doing the same thing, then my Dad would certainly have the right to rush us off the phone.

Oh, to be cursed with three loving daughters. Sorry, Dad.

We've now coordinated our phone calls and my Dad is not harassed by us.

Well, at least not by phone.