Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Is My Phone Dead?

I still find myself checking my cell phone and voice mail at home to make sure they're still working. You see, Mama and the nursing home called many times throughout the day. I'd never turn off my cell phone or the home phone. How could I? Now I can turn them both off at night and may even forget to turn them back on. The phone doesn't ring much anymore except for those damn telemarketers. Sometimes I think... is my phone dead?

I'd panic when the phone rang very early in the morning or very late in the evening. It could only mean one thing... something was wrong with Mama. I had to prepare myself for the worst whenever the phone rang. I didn't know what to expect, but I knew I was the only one who could "fix" whatever was broken with Mama. I felt like a translator at times between Mama and the nurses and the doctors, oh my! Being a caregiver and always trying to "fix" it wore me out. I didn't realize it at the time, I just did what I needed to do. I'd always be "on call" and always would leave the phone on. I did this for well over ten years and I didn't realize what a toll it took on me... until the phone stopped ringing. Pheww! A relief? Yes, but no. Now I miss those calls that would sometimes get me annoyed and wish that Mama could call me one more time. She could make me laugh and those are the times I choose to remember and share. This is one of those phone calls...

The phone rings earlier than usual. What's going on this time? It's the nursing home calling and I think the worst. Oh Jesus, is everything alright? My heart starts to race as I take a few deep breaths and pick up the phone.

Mama: Hello, Vincent.

Vin: Hello, Mama. Are you alright?

Mama: Oh yeah, I'm fine. Do you have my phone number? I called because I wanna make sure you have my number.

Vin: What? Of course I have your phone number. It's the same number you've had for years, it hasn't changed.

Mama: Okay I just wanted to make sure you had it. And you know where I am don't you?

Vin: Of course I know where you are.

Mama: Well, will I be seeing you later?

Vin: Yes Mama. I'll be over after your dinner just like every night.

Mama: Well then, be careful crossing the streets when you come over.

Vin: Mama, there are no streets to cross in Suburbia. I'll be driving the car and see you soon.

Mama: Oh, goodie. Here comes the food, I gotta go! I gotta eat dinner now. Jesus, I'm starving. I hope it's something good tonight, they serve a lot of crap in this place. Oh, it smells like spaghetti. Bye bye dear. I'll see you later, right?

Vin: Yes Mama see you soon.

I never knew what was coming next whenever the phone rang. It was just another part of our roller coaster ride that would shoot us up then swoop us down without any warning. It was draining but I wouldn't have had it any other way. I had a choice and I chose the role of a caregiver. I was Mama's advocate and friend. I had my daily dose of Dementia with Mama Drama and made the best of it.  

By the way, my phone is not dead! But I still talk to Mama, just not on the phone. And I've started to leave the phone on vibrate every night... just in case!

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