My mother might be dead, or at the very least, trapped under a heavy object.
At least, that’s what my father led me to believe this afternoon at precisely 2:58 pm.
I was sitting at my desk working when I decided to call my friend, Theresa in New York to ask why another friend of ours hasn’t returned my calls, when I heard my phone ding in my ear to let me know a new text message had arrived.
Theresa and I chatted for a while and then I hung up the phone and read my text message. It was from my Dad. Who lives with my Mom. They are divorced and they share a house. Sometimes they talk to each other and sometimes they just leave each other sticky notes.
The text from my Dad says: Did you talk to your momma today? Her door has been closed all day!
By “her door” he means my mother’s bedroom door. He walks by it several times a day on his way in and out of his own bedroom. I live 17 miles away from my parents’ house. I do not regularly walk by either of their doors.
I respond: No! Really? She isn’t working?
Dad says: Don’t know.
I write: Is her car home?
Me: That’s odd. I’ll call her.
I am imagining my mother face down on the carpet on the far side of her bedroom where nobody can hear her faint cries for help.
Theresa and I were just talking about another friend of ours whose mother is unexpectedly having hip replacement surgery while simultaneously suffering from a heart condition.
“That’s crazy! Is she OK?” I asked Theresa. “I mean, is she still in the hospital? I thought she was so healthy.”
“Well, she is almost 80, you know. I guess it’s not totally unusual that she is having health issues,” said Theresa.
“But,” I protested, not willing to accept that our mothers are getting older, “your mother is in her 80s and she is healthy!”
“Yeah, well, she hasn’t been to the doctor since I was born,” Theresa laughed. “Although I guess she did go to the emergency room once because she was having some kind of weird feeling and they told her her potassium was low.”
I listened as Theresa explained the outcome of her mom’s visit to the E.R.
“Basically, they told her to go home and eat some bananas and she’s been fine ever since,” she finished her story.
Now I sat staring at my phone, reading a text that my mother might be the one experiencing some kind of trauma. And, she is in her bedroom with her door closed where nobody – not even my father passing by in the hallway – can hear her calling out for help.
I touched my cell phone screen under “favorites” and called my mother. The phone rang. And rang some more.
I waited, imagining the whole dramatic scenario in which I have to call my father frantically, while running out to my car to speed 17 miles to my parents’ house, only to burst through my mother’s bedroom door to find her lying face down on the white carpet, clutching her cell phone with one hand and her chest with the other, not the faintest trace of pulse coursing through her veins.
“Hello?” my mother answered cheerfully.
“You’re OK?” I asked.
Mom laughed. “As far as I know I am. Why?”
“Dad just texted me and said you hadn’t come out of your room all day and he wanted to know if I had spoken to you.”
Mom laughed again. “Ha! It’s nice to know he cares! I’ve been in here cleaning and putting away laundry. I mopped the kitchen floor while he was out this morning. Did he even notice that?”
“I guess not,” I told her, relieved that she was coherent.
“Jeez,” she said, “that’s hilarious. He could have knocked on the door if he thought I was dead.”
“I know! That’s what I told him,” I replied.
She proceeded to tell me how she had vacuumed and cleaned the living room and kitchen while he was out earlier this morning, and when he came home he fell asleep on the couch, so she stayed in her bedroom folding laundry – with the door closed – so she wouldn’t disturb him. At 2:00 pm, she heard him leave again. She was still in her room sorting clothes when I called her just after 3:00 pm.
“Well, I’m happy to know you’re not face down on the carpet,” I told Mom.
“No, I’m not,” she said, casually. “I’m finishing up in here and I’m going to meet the girls for our usual Wednesday night outing. You can let your father know I’m OK. And, tell him I said thanks for caring!” she was clearly amused by his concern. Then she added, “Next time he thinks I’m dead, tell him to just knock on the door and find out.”
I laughed. “OK, Mom. I love you. Have fun.”
She told me she loved me, too, instructed me to give my daughter a hug from her, and hung up the phone.
I texted my father:
Just spoke to Mom. She’s alive. She is now on her way to drink margaritas, so I don’t think you have to call the meat wagon just yet.
Dad responded: Oh good! That’s what I was afraid of.
Me: She was just in there cleaning. She said, “Thanks for caring!” I told her I was happy she wasn’t face down on the carpet.
Dad: OK. I had a busy morning. Fell asleep after brunch. Lost 2 lbs.
I turned my focus back to work, feeling extremely thankful for my parents, whom, in addition to being in good health, still manage to bring humor to my day. I imagine they will be all right well into their 80s.