Today would have been my dad’s 97th birthday. This is my favorite picture of him. It once belonged to his parents, and his mother gave it to me because she knew I’d take care of it. He joined the Marines right out of high school and fought in the Pacific in WWII. He and my mom were married for 67 years until death did them part on 22 September, 2014. I got my sense of humor, and my love of reading, language and music from him. They say, “Once a Marine, always a Marine.” Yeah. “Semper fidelis” pretty much sums him up. Its what mom and I had put on his grave marker. Hard to believe it’s been five years since this day changed from a happy birthday to a day of remembrance.
My poor mom. She’ll be 95 this year. She’s still as full of beans as ever, active, alert and, thankfully, still in possession of a full set of marbles, but she likes things just the way they are. For a long time, they had Dish TV, and AT&T internet and land line, each on a separate account, and she was paying through the nose for it. My mom is what you might call dyed in the wool frugal. For a long time, her frugality at having to pay so much warred with her dislike of change. She was particularly unhappy with the satellite service, which lost the signal whenever it rained or the wind kicked up. It was an epic struggle but finally last week, frugality won and she decided to switch everything over to AT&T(DirecTV) and bundle it. The guy came out at 11 a.m. Tuesday morning and didn’t leave until 7 p.m. that night. He was back and forth to the alley, he was up in the attic, he was was in and out to his truck. Somehow in the shuffle, AT&T tried to give her a new telephone number. Ooooh. Bad move. The phrase “madder than a wet hen” comes to mind. . . as does the expression, “fit to be tied.” Add to that her being told that the situation could not be sorted out until Monday, and you have one very unhappy camper.
Allow me to digress: Once upon a time, having a telephone meant you had to have an actual wire going from a telephone pole to your house, and you had to attach your phone to that wire or it wouldn’t work. If you moved, you had to get a new phone number, because the phone number wasn’t yours, it was the wire’s. When our family moved to a new house in 1960, we got a new phone number, which was going to be our phone number as long as we lived in that house. Then, for some unfathomable telephone-company reason, in 1975, she and my dad (who were still living in that house) had to get a new telephone number — as I discovered when I attempted to call home. I was living in Germany at the time, and she had written me a letter giving me the new number, but I hadn’t had a chance to get it yet. It was quite disconcerting to be expecting to hear one of your parents’ voices answer the phone, only to hear some telephone lady tell you that your parents’ telephone number was no longer in service!
She’s still living in that same house, and that “new” phone number has been her number for 44 years now! — until AT&T tried to pull a fast one on her yesterday.
I was blissfully unaware of all this sturm und drang until about 8:30 last night when I got a phone call. The caller ID had my mom’s first and last name on it, which was odd, and it was not my mom’s time-tested phone number either, which was odder still. But the voice on the line was definitely hers. She had called to alert me to the fact that AT&T had played fast and loose with her telephone number and to vent her extreme displeasure that they weren’t going to be getting around to fixing the situation until Monday.
My mom has a large circle of friends-and-relations, all of whom have that phone number, and my mom is at the age when if people call her number and it rings and rings and rings and rings, the next thing they do is call me (if they’re a relative) or call the lady across the street from her. She had called her dear friend CK and left a phone message with the temporary number, because she thinks in terms of writing things down. However, the minute I got off the phone, I texted CK (and my brother) to clue her knowing that having that number in a text on her phone made it easy for CK to keep up with it, and that one has simply to tap a phone number in a text message to call that number.
At least this will give me a good story to tell my friend LB, who is still in the hospital, and will probably be there for a while. Tomorrow is my last day of physical therapy, and afterward, I’ll be going up to the hospital to see her. Anything I can do to lift her spirits will be all to the good.