February 27, 2006

Sunday Phone Calls

Phone calls with my parents used to happen on Sundays. I’d call my father or he’d call me, and we’d exchange trivial information about recent events – about who had a cold, and who had gotten an A on a test, and where we’d driven the day before, and whatnot. Occasionally important things were said, but not very often. I didn’t trust my father’s advice very much. He meant well, but I thought he didn’t know enough about life, or about my life, to steer me right. Sometimes I purposely did the opposite of what he said, on the theory that that was more likely to work. But I enjoyed talking to him about my kids and my work, and finding out how he was doing in his post-divorce life.

Phone calls with my mother were more problematic: so many boring complaints. But I liked it when we talked about the characters in our family, their meshuggener histories, her sharp acerbic assessments.

Now that they’re dead, I sometimes have a funny feeling on a Sunday morning: “It would be nice to talk to Dad on the phone today.” Yesterday morning I even caught myself thinking in the old half-annoyed way, “Maybe Mom will call this morning.”

Sometimes I imagine my kids, in the future, thinking the same thing about me.

While I’m writing this, Agent 95 zips into my study and points a finger at me: “It’s my archnemesis, Dadman!”

He’s already learned what I never did: to take it comically.

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