It was another one of those weekends when I had decided that enough time had passed for me to perform this one simple task. It’s one that I used to try and perform every second weekend, but my self-preservation kicked in and I decided that my mental anguish was unnecessary. A good four weeks (wow…a month) had passed and I was ready to take on this challenge. I took a few deep breaths…breathe in [count to six], breathe out [count to six]. I was ready. Time for The Phone Call.
I punched in the phone number. I listened and heard the ringing on the other end.
Me: Hello. How are you?
Mom: OOOOOOH! It’s you! (loud piercing voice to ensure I can hear her in Canada). Is everything ok? Is there something new? Why are you calling?
Me: Just called to see how you were doing.
Mom: Everything is wonderful!
JACKPOT! I hit the “Happy Phone Call” Day! Woo hoo! Woot woot!
“We were so lucky,” she started, “they had flooding in the next village, but we didn’t get any here. God definitely heard our prayers.” Oops. I got excited too soon. She was happy to hear from me, but now this conversation was spiralling into one of those other dimensions. Oh no! Hopefully no funeral talk. I had a feeling the “litany” might be involved in today’s catch up phone call. I continued to breathe in slowly and exhale slowly. I could do this. I could keep it positive. I was feeling empowered! No matter what she threw at me I could weather the verbal onslaught! Hit me with it Mom! I challenge you! And she did.
After 4 weeks of being incommunicado with my parents, I was mentally and emotionally prepared. I could handle a little rumble and wrestling in the pit of antagonism and negativity. I’d chalk it up to “Fun Folk Times” and knew that after hanging up I would have another 4 weeks to boost up my auto-negativity immune system. It started with the horrible weather and then moved on to ALL the other non-good things in her life at the moment. If you read my previous post you would know that I am speaking of The Litany.
I did manage to bring up some things that were happening in my end of the world. Although we are doing a major renovation in our home, I did not bring up this jubilant part of my life. Why? We hired people to do the work. We did NOT wait for my father to return and have him do it. So, best not to reveal happy things that would definitely sour quickly. She spoke of the “miracle of the vineyard”. When they had arrived in Croatia, the vineyard had been a disaster. The blossoms had been blown away by high winds and there was no chance that there would grapes this year. Looks like God decided they needed wine and now there was an abundance of juicy grapes. Ok, I paraphrased, but that’s basically what her version boiled down to. We spoke of children and grandchildren. We conversed about my siblings and their lives (short story as I hadn’t spoken to anyone in awhile). We chatted about the weather, about their return home, about my aunt and her recovery after surgery. Yes, we covered many topics and I managed to keep the conversation mostly upbeat. It was a pleasant catch up session. Then, my mother informed me that my father had sauntered into the room. Things changed quickly.
“Hey! Hey you!” she hollered at my father. Yes, hollered, because…well, he was in the same room right? “It’s your daughter!” she laughed out loud as she yelled. I waited a bit and as my father said “hello” into the receiver I could hear mom yelling in the background. “Don’t talk too long! It’s long distance!” To which he replied (yelled back) “I just got on the phone!” This is where my usual interjection comes in: “What’s new?” I do this in the hopes of distracting him from her verbal onslaught. This most recent conversation was one that had me LOL-ing afterward for days. It also had me talking to myself and shaking my head. I am sure I looked strange, but all I kept thinking was Please don’t let me end up like them. Here is why.
Dad: Oh boy. We are so tired now. We were just making wine. You would not believe what…
[shouting in background] I already told her about the vineyard! Don’t waste time. It’s long distance!
Dad: Ok, so you know about the wine. Your mother and I are ok. We are..
Mom [bellowing]: She knows that! I told her!
Dad: Well for heaven’s sake! Fine! [grumble grumble]. What’s new with you? How is everyone over there?
Me: We are all….
[shouting voice]: She told me everything! I’ll tell you all about it. Don’t waste time. It’s long distance!
Dad: [harrumph with head shaking and an exasperated chuckle]. Although I was not in the room, I could visualize it. I’d heard that sound before and know the head shake that accompanies it). “Okay then,” he says resignedly.
Me: I guess I’ll let you go. We can talk another day. Bye.
Done. Task performed. An hour on the phone with my mother and 45 seconds on the phone with my father. I sometimes wonder what happens after he put the phone back in the cradle. Does he just walk away? In this particular case, I imagined her starting to tell him everything I said. Then I remembered that today was a litany day for her so she probably didn’t hear anything or remember anything I said. Oh well…4 more weeks until we do it again.