I accidentally hit speed dial the other day. To my grandmother. She’s been dead now 4-5 five years. Seems impossible.
You’d think I’d clean up my phone. Remove the speed dials that don’t work anymore. But I can’t. I love the little surreptitious reminders of my grandmother or even people with whom I have little contact anymore.
I don’t know why I can’t remember how long ago she died. I don’t know why it took me until I wrote her obituary to consistently remember how to spell her name.
I remember her coaching me: “Well, Francis with an ‘i’ is the boy’s spelling. You spell the girl’s version with an ‘e.’” You’d think I’d remember.
But, at least, I finally did.
It’s the same thing with setting the table. Counting plates and flatware still gives me a nanosecond of confusion. How many are we now? Today? How many might we be tomorrow?
Sometimes I wonder why something so simple still confuses me.
I grew up next door to my grandparents. They lived in a grand old brick farmhouse at a crossroads in the Niagara farming region. During my early elementary years, my great grandparents lived upstairs. My grandmother and mother cared for them. Bathing and clothing and feeding them as they aged and could no longer care for themselves. My great aunts and uncles, their children and grandchildren often came around. We knew them all.
At one point in childhood I lost a great-uncle on one side, a great-aunt on another, as well as my other grandmother and my great-grandmother all within months. All normal-everyday-old-age, good deaths, so-to-speak.
But as a child, counting out flatware and plates over those few months was a different kind of calculus—one where the sorrow of adults and the vacuum left in the wake of a loved one’s departing, left me unable to count exactly what their absence meant.
Today, I try to translate that nanosecond of confusion I still sometimes feel counting forks into the blessing of having had these people in my life.
They still feed my soul.
And, I don’t count out that conjuring a conversation with my grandmother is only an accidental speed dial away.
What memorable moments have accidental speed dials given you?
One evening our daughter was working on an engineering problem for school, they needed to build a bridge that could support a person standing on it. I was stumped, so I had her call my sister, who is a civil engineer. She had somehow misdialed, so when a gentleman answered the phone, she replied that she was trying to reach her aunt to answer an engineering question. To her surprise, he offered to help out, as he was an engineer himself. They talked for a bit about the problem and then hung up. The kind man called back to the house to talk to us to let us know that he had a discussion with our daughter so we wouldn’t worry. We then found out he was a structural engineer who designed bridges!
As for grandmas: I deeply miss both my grandmothers, who have passed away several years ago, and like you, don’t know the exact time. I think that makes us feel like they haven’t been gone as long and somehow feel closer.
Oh, my gosh Lisa! This is a great story! What a gentleman to call back and talk to you as parents! This is such a great anecdote! Random homework coincidence! I can just see this as it happens! I hear you on grandmothers. I think you hit the nail on the head about why we don’t want to calculate the time they’ve been gone. Hugs – R
My three year old niece needed emergency surgery. Two anesthesiologists declined their services because my Lucy was too fraile. The third courageous doctor agreed and the surgery proceded. My mother comforted my distraught sister in the waiting room. Arm in arm, they rocked in unison waiting for the surgeon to appear and say, “Everything went well”. As they waited, my mom’s cell phone rang. Embarrassed and angry she had not remembered prior, she reached into her purse and silenced the annoyance.
The surgery was a success and Lucy is now a healthy 8 year old tomboy.
When my sister was led back to the recovery room, my mom pulled out her phone. Who had called her during that critical moment? The one missed call was from “Betty Buck”. Betty was my mother’s sister. Betty was 15 months older than my mom. Growing up, close to poverty conditions, my mom and Betty shared a bed until they were teens. Their bond in sisterhood could not be measured or matched. Betty’s “missed call” during little Lucy’s surgery can not be explained because my Aunt Betty passed away a year before Lucy’s illness. Do we have angels watching over us? You bet we do! Thank you, Renee for sharing your beautiful story of your grandmother and allowing me a place to share mine!
The divine has a way of ringing in, doesn’t it? Kristi, your stories so well illustrate where the human, spiritual and every day moment converge. Thank you so much for such honest, in-depth connecting. This is a really neat story. My mom gave me chills when she emailed me this morning to say that this is the week my grandmother passed away. I had not made that connection until she did… your story drives deeper to how pointed the messages from the universe can be!
Wow, another divine intervention came your way this morning. I do not believe it was a coincidence that you picked this week to blog about your grandmother. I believe your grandmother picked it. 🙂
Oh, my Kristi. I think you’re right! I had a really wild moment last spring when I was writing about my father taking me to my radiation treatment when I had cancer. As I started to put the dates into the story, in honor of the fact that my youngest was part of a Stand Up to Cancer program on the day the founder of that program passed away of cancer, I got so freaked out b/c I was writing about my treatment day ON THE DAY 5 YEARS LATER to the HOUR as I was writing it. I got up and had to walk around the house my heart was pounding so hard! Crazy, I know! This stuff happens. And we have to pay attention… Thank YOU!
Renee, what a beautiful story about your grandmother. I love seeing her on the page, both in writing and photos. The only experience I have with misdialing recently is very different from yours. An elderly lady dialed me accidentally. I told her she had the wrong number, etc. It was bedtime and I turned off my phone. The next day I found messages on my cell, where she was begging me to come help her as she worried about an intruder, etc. I called the police and begged them to find her and help her because I thought she lived alone and was frightened. The police called me back a while later. They had located her and had gone to the house. She lived with her son, who said she wouldn’t be calling me again, and that all was well. Over the next few days she must have dialed my phone 100 times. Maybe more. So much for her son’s promise. She eventually decided that I was with her brother who lives in L.A., although by the time I had to have my phone blocked to her number (she was seriously disturbing me right when Marisha was getting out of surgery) I had started to wonder if she was actually yanking my chain and wanted attention, rather than being completely confused. I still feel bad about it, but when I called the police back to ask them to get her more help, they denied ever going there in the first place. Sorry for the tangent.
Oh, my! Wow, did you have patience friend! So glad you looked into this. You just never know! Your patience and heart have so been tested lately. She’s lucky she rang you and not someone else who may have reacted harshly or who knows how. Hopefully she has lost your number and/or her issues are resolved. Hugs, Renee
ps – I love the old pics you post on your blog! Fabulous window into time!
I still have my parents’ phone number on my speed dial and can’t take it off although they’ve been dead for years. Same with my late older sister’s email address. She’ll stay in my contacts until I change my address. And sometimes I still absentmindedly put out an extra setting for my late father-in-law when my mother-in-law is here for dinner. They’ve all left their mark. Beautiful post, Renee.
Oh, Anneli, thank you so much for sharing your similar moments. You are appreciated!
I’m not sure that this counts but I had two numbers transposed once and it rang a friend other than the one I was trying to reach. Then, it was a matter of, “since I’ve got you”. Not nearly as poetic as your lovely tale.
Tammy, the “since I’ve got you moments” are great. I would up accidentally pitching a workshop yesterday that way. I actually think the book store owner found it a bit more delightful than the fully polished sale! Those moments do indeed yield a variety of stories!
My Babci (Polish for grandmother) died long before cell phones and speed dialing, but I’m now entering my powerful annual period of connection with her…. through hyacinths. That distinctive springtime fragrance transports me back to walking into Babci’s triple decker on Easter Sunday for her amazing food and engulfing hugs. She was my only source of unbridled unconditional love in the family — and having hyacinths in my house these next six weeks gives me a sense of being enveloped in that comforting, empowering feeling.
Oh, brilliant! Smell is the greatest neural pathway to memory… so no wonder. Roses, rhubarb, peonies, lilacs, and pot roast put me with my Mamie… my own word for her… But, Babci, wow, your description is so neat, I so feel your words: unbridled and unconditional, the stuff grandmothers–most of them– are made of! Enveloping is great too… THANK YOU!
I loved reading this story and it’s truth. And each response after was very touching. We are all connected. Thank you.
Thank you so much for checking in. I know that your blog is far more focused on farmer’s market and beautiful presentation of hand-crafted foods, so I’m tickled you stopped by on this post! -Thanks, Renee
Beautiful post. I think sometimes when things like this happen, it’s a deceased person’s way of letting us know they’re still watching over us. Calling her on the phone may have been her way of saying hello:)
Thank you for your insightful comment~! Now, please refrain from making me cry from reading your blog… at least not until tomorrow!