Thursday, August 16, 2007

Bad Connection

I stumble around the kitchen making breakfast with my children draped over the furniture in the family room on summer holidays routine. I check my email whilst I wait for the kettle to boil. Nothing from my mother or my mother in law. Both these octogenarians are now equipped with laptops, the same breed, so that tutorials may be conducted more easily. The toaster erupts so I grab the butter and call in the troops. No movement or sound is discernible, so I go and round up my children and corral them to the table for sustenance.

The telephone rings and it’s prior to daylight. I check the clock. I check the children. Spouse is at his morning exercise programme. The rings ring to tell me that spouse has collapsed and is currently whizzing his way to the emergency room. I swallow hard and then lift the receiver. I hear my mother’s voice. She is 8 hours away and so this translates to one of the following: someone is dying, or already dead and I’ve probably missed the funeral.
“Hello? Is that you dear? It’s a very bad line! Can you speak up a bit?”
“Yes, is that better?”
“Yes.”
“Hi!”
“Are you alright! You sound very odd dear?”
“Odd?”
“Well, very cheerful.”
“Do I?”
“Yes.” I practice breathing to stop the rising panic and pray that the children can hang on a few more breathless minutes as I wait for her to tell me the ghastly news.
“Are you still there dear?”
“Yes, I’m right here. I’m quite ready.”
“Ready for what dear? Have I called at a bad time?”
“No, no, no, anytime is just fine, I’m always here for you, you know that don’t you mum.”
“Well of course you’re always there, you never go out! You’ve turned into some kind of hermit. How are the teeth by the way?”
“Fine.” I leave the way open for her to tell me, so that we don’t get sidetracked onto something else. I know that this is her way of letting me down gently.
“Oh good. That’s good then.”
“And?” I prompt.
“Are the children well, er, I mean well despite, you know everything else?” This avoids the elephant in the room otherwise known as autism. I glance across at my elephants to check that they are indeed still well. I feel a rising thread of irritation, just a tiny one. I was ‘prepared’ a few moments ago, but now ‘prepared’ is fading and annoyance is rising.
“So what is it that you wanted to tell me mum?”
“Tell you?”
“Yes, what did you want to tell me?”
“What makes you think that I wanted to tell you something?”
“You telephoned me…….so I’m assuming you have something to tell me?” I want to ask ‘how is dad?’ but I’m not sufficiently prepared for the answer. I think of distant relatives that I could tolerate being removed? A sacrifice to the greater good of my mental health. Maybe 3rd cousins, removed twice, or 5th cousins removed 17 times? How distant is distant enough? I change my tone to exactly match the woman on the relaxation tape, mellifluous. I gird my loins for the inevitable.
“So…..” I offer helpfully.
“Yes?”
“I was wondering…..”
“What were you wondering dear?”
“I was wondering what it was that you telephoned to tell me?”
“Oh, I see.” I wait. “Are you still there?” I wonder if I am?
“Mum, tell me. Tell me right now!”
“Well! I can tell that you’re not feeling particularly helpful, so perhaps I should call at a more convenient time. What is the time by the way, for you, not for me?”
“Here it is three minutes to six.”
“Ah well you must be busy with supper then, I quite understand.”
“Morning mother, morning!”
“Oh really! What on earth are you doing up at this ungodly hour?” I am always up at this hour, although if I were alone, or not on the phone, it would probably be quite heavenly. She continues without prompting.
“Well you won’t want to be bothered with my woes then.”
“I am quite happy to be bothered with your woes, if you’ll only tell me what they are, your woes that is?”
“Oh, I see. Well it’s the computer, it’s broken, I can’t get my messages, umm e-mail.”

5 comments:

Hammer said...

Hehehe The Email being down is pretty serious indeed.

mumkeepingsane said...

Ugh, I know this isn't the point of your post, but the whole 'elephant in the room' thing drives me mad.

Either ask me how my son is...period. Or ask me how autism is going. Sorry for the vent.

It was pretty funny that she called at 6 am about her computer.

Linda said...

Nothing like having a phone ring at an unlikely hour that is normally only reserved for harbingers of bad news, getting your stomach all in knots, and then it being nothing. My heart can't handle too many of those kind of incidents!

tut-tut said...

Well, I don't think my mother would ever have been able to cope with a computer, so you are lucky, actually. A pre-6 am phone call, though . . . what a heart-stopper.

riseoutofme said...

Sometimes I think, as people get older (75+), their priorities revert back to when they were children. Me, me, me.

Frustrating.

What could possibly be more important than getting one of her lifelines fixed?

And WHO did she call for help??

Enough said.