My daughter once facetiously referred to my smart phone as "Mom's best friend", and it spends most of its time in my pocket. At work I put it away in my office during programs, but otherwise, it rides with me. At home, at night, it gets plugged into its charger and serves as my alarm clock.
For the past 2 years or so, I have tensed, waiting for the phone. First, the calls from my mother about my father. The call from my brother, about my father. And then the calls about my mother from my brother. Calls that inevitably meant something bad was happening.
And the calls from my mother. For years, it was calls from my mother always at exactly the wrong time--when I was tired from a program, or about to go out to do a program, or at night when I was exhausted from my whole day and didn't want to talk about everyday things.
But then she was handling chemo therapy, and unexpected weird symptoms. Endless blood transfusions and platelets. Often she'd call while lying there undergoing treatments and I'd feel guilty for not having the energy to talk, for not calling her myself.
When she broke her leg, after she made it home, I called daily for a while. And then I called less and less as she recovered. She still called, we still talked, but not as often.
And then came last November, and her broken shoulder and her pneumonia. When the phone rang after that, I braced myself for bad news from my brother.
When she called--usually on her caregiver's phone, because she could no longer manage her cell phone--I braced myself to talk to her. Some days she was fully coherent and things were fine. Other times, she would get confused, or be unable to talk and I knew things weren't right.
I called her on Valentine's Day and she didn't seem to be aware of the flowers I'd sent her.She couldn't tell me if she'd gotten the cards I'd sent Priority Mail to get there on time. I knew something was wrong.
When I called the next day, and the next, and she couldn't say more than "Hi" before drifting off, I knew that things were very wrong.
That was when I called the doctor. That was when I made plans to come up in the next few days, because it was clear the end was near.
And now, right around this time of the day, I think "It's time to call Mom."
Then it hits me again that I can't do that.
That I will never hear her saying "Hi, darling," happy that I've called her.
It's the hardest time of the day now.