I can still see her as she barreled in the door on a bright Fall day, ponytails swishing, a jumbled mass of pink, mismatched stripes and costume jewelry.
She was fresh out of school and had sprinted the entire way home without breaking a sweat. As she did every single day, she burst into the house, dropped her backpack and her shoes in a heap in the mud room, and she asked if she could have a snack while she did her homework. She brightly babbled about her day, dug out her first grade worksheet homework and sat down at the kitchen island to get to the business of being seven. Her standard snack of Goldfish crackers in a dish beside her, she quietly focused on her work.
As she scrunched her face and squeezed that yellow pencil tightly in her little hand while diligently doing doing math facts, she suddenly looked up at me and said, “Hey, Mama? Can I FaceTime Poppy while I do my homework?”
Knowing that my father would never pass up an opportunity to chat “face to face” with his only granddaughter, I said that I’d set the iPad up for her, but not before loading the dishwasher, answering two emails and walking to the mailbox for the mail. In fact, I’d almost forgotten her request as the door slammed behind me when she said, “Mommmmmmmmaaaaa, he neeeeds to talk to me today. I can feel it!”. And, so, I begrudgingly got the iPad out, called my Dad and watched from a busied distance as her pony tails swung while she giggled with him. He quizzed her on her math, said silly things to her and as her legs swung under the bar stool upon which she sat, I remember distinctly thinking that technology didn’t suck. She was doing her homework with her grandfather, George Jetsen style, right in my kitchen.
As is usually the case with two small children, I hurried her up. “Gotta go, Dad! Fruit Loop #1 gets off the bus soon. Talk to you later!” and as I clicked the red button to end our interface, my Dad’s face froze in a smile on the iPad. I remember thinking he looked ridiculous.
Later that afternoon, chaos abounded as per our usual on a Wednesday night. Fruit Loop #2 was whiny about dinner. Fruit Loop #1 had to be at a Cub Scout event in an hour and I had barely defrosted something for dinner. Hubby walked in the door with a huge, long, complicated story that, in his mind, demanded my full attention. My house hummed with the sounds of the evening news, my yells for Fruit Loop #1 to get his uniform on and the smells of a half assed, somewhat nutritious meal on the stove. It was a typical Wednesday, nothing out of the ordinary, but something nagged at me.
While I couldn’t put my finger on it just yet, I waited because I knew what was coming. I knew that The Voices were about to speak.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve heard voices that have guided me, helped me, or prepared me for the events in my life. Some call it intuition, others call it clairvoyance and M. Knight Shyamalan famously scared the bejeezus out of all of us with a little boy announcing he could see dead people in The Sixth Sense (seriously, I did NOT see the ending coming with that one…). Whatever the voices are, however they come to me, I would by lying if I didn’t think I was a little half baked sometimes. And, if you stop reading right now because you’ve decided this blogger is certifiably cray cray, I’ll understand. But, the fact is, the voices happen in my head and, I’ve learned to accept them. Or it. Or him. Or her. Whatever or whoever they are, they are a part of my being and they interrupt my world often at the most inopportune times.
And so, on that frenzied night in October, as my house buzzed with the noise of two children, a yappy husband and Brian Williams, The Voices spoke, much to my annoyance.
You should have Fruit Loop #1 FaceTime your Dad.
Stop what you are doing and pick up the iPad.
I tried to shake The Voices off, tried to ignore their persuasive litany in my head. I had to make dinner, for God’s sakes. I wanted to see the story about that hurricane that might be coming. I had to yell at Fruit Loop #1 one. more. time to put on his uniform. I just don’t have time to listen to The Voices, I thought.
Call him. CALL HIM.
Fruit Loop #1 will need this. Do this for him.
I couldn’t shake them, couldn’t make The Voices go away. I finally gave in with a furious rush and, with an irritated haste, I snapped at Fruit Loop #1 to button his shirt and to sit down at the kitchen desk to talk to Poppy. Even Fruit Loop #1 was bewildered, “But, why? We have to leave, I haven’t eaten, I don’t understand, Mama…” But, despite his questions, despite my annoyance that The Voices were wreaking havoc on my evening, the familiar sound of a FaceTime call waiting to connect filled the kitchen.
My Dad’s face filled the screen and I hurriedly told him that Fruit Loop #1 wanted to say hi. I told him I didn’t have time to chat. I told him I’d talk to him soon and rushed off to the stove to deal with the half assed, quasi nutritious meal I was going to shove down everyone’s throats.
As I turned from the stove to the kitchen island, I saw my father smile at my son. I saw Fruit Loop #1 gesturing and throwing his head back in laughter. I have no idea what they talked about and, when I rushed over to hang the call up, I looked at my Dad’s eyes and saw love. saw his smile, heard him say “Love you, too” and watched as his frozen smile faded to black on the screen.
My father died the next day.
As I gently told the Fruit Loops the devastating news, Fruit Loop #2’s head whipped up and her ponytail swished as she shook her head, unable to believe what she was hearing. As the tears started to fall, she looked at me and said, with quiet grace, “Well, I’m so glad I listened to the voice that told me to call him yesterday.”
I am, too, sweetheart. I am, too.
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