Tuesday, June 21, 2016


A phone call at 5:58 am.  I know it can’t be good news.  I think of scenarios as I stumble half asleep to pick up the phone.  It’s probably another bout with a bowel blockage.    A call from the Lifeline because she’s fallen?   
Our home phone is in the kitchen.  The first ring wakes me up.  The second makes me get up.  If my arthritis isn’t a problem I can make the 27 steps before the answering machine picks up on the fourth ring. Usually it screens calls from political parties and a persistent credit card offers.   My friends and our children question why we still have a home phone.  We rarely use it.  The reason is 92 years old.  My mother in law knows the phone number and she doesn’t need any changes to befuddle her. 
She’s hung up by the time I get to the phone.   No message!  I tried to call her back.  Busy.  I force myself to count to fifteen.  I redial.  Deep breath, trying to be calm.  “Hi, this is Lori.” 
“I’ve been awake all night.”  Her voice is so soft, with those odd little cracks.
Oh dear!  My husband is leaving on a business trip at 7:15.  He’s got a nine hour drive.  I know I’m on my own for this emergency room visit and hospital stay.
“What do you need?”  A ride to the hospital, or maybe I should just call an ambulance.  Possibly help cleaning up from the nausea?  Gosh!  I hope she hasn’t fallen!
“I forgot to tell Wayne my water softener is out of salt”  “You know how the water gets dark when it’s out.”  “Will you tell him please?”
I force a smile onto my face, hopefully in my voice too.  “Sure, I’ll stop over later and check it out for you.” 

As I stumble back down the hall to the bedroom I check my cell.  6:02 a.m.  


  1. Oh geez, you had me on the edge of my seat. First, I'm glad she was okay! Whew! Second, the pacing of this piece was perfect - the way you told it in real time with every thought that went through your mind, the way you counted the steps. Perfect. Great Slice.

  2. Those late night/early morning phone calls certainly conjure up all sorts of terrifying possibilities. I'm glad it was a small thine...and that you got to go back to bed.

  3. Your story brought back so many memories of similar situations with my father-in-law. The way you wrote made me focus on the incredible power of words. Just a few. Short and simple, "Sure, I'll stop over later..."That is what was needed for peace of mind. Thanks for sharing this.

  4. Your mother-in-law is a great reason to keep that old-fashioned house phone! So happy that you will go check in on her today :-)
    I had an early morning call today as well.
    5:21 AM. My beloved Kramer...
    Enjoy your time with her!

  5. Love this. What a precious story! I am so very glad that this was the reason for the early morning call...one that ended with you smiling.

  6. You really captured the juxtaposition of feeling alarmed but listening and reacting calmly. Been there, and you expressed it so well. Good writing.

  7. You really captured the juxtaposition of feeling alarmed but listening and reacting calmly. Been there, and you expressed it so well. Good writing.

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