Inspired by Mama Kat’s Writer’s Workshop.
3.) A phone call you won’t forget.
Warning: Intense, emotional theme.
During the late 90s I was working in radio on the air doing the night shift. My shift would end at midnight when “Chris” would take over until 5:30 a.m. I never worried that Chris would not show up on time, he took his position very seriously, and respected that at midnight I was off the air. I couldn’t leave if he didn’t come because at that time of the night only one person would be at the station, the on-air personality.
One night at around 11:15 the “hotline” rang. That was never good. It was the secret phone number the listeners didn’t have. It could be the Program Director, General Manager, Engineer; you had to pick up that line.
What was up now?
“Hello?”, I said.
“Yeah, it’s Chris. I – I don’t think I will be able to come in tonight because…I think my father is dying.”
“What? Where are you, in the hospital?”
“No, I’m home. I’m with him and he’s lying on the floor. He collapsed and I think he’s dying.”
“Okay, okay, don’t worry about it, I will call Terry (our program director) and let him know what’s going on. It’s okay, Chris.”
“Em, Em, I – I…I think my father…I think he’s dead, Emily. I think my father is dead. He’s dead, yeah, he’s dead”
“Oh my God, oh my God, Chris!”
“So you see I can’t come in tonight, I’m sorry.”
I knew Chris was in shock, he couldn’t really grasp what he was saying to me or what was happening to him. As for me, I was hearing the story of a man who died while I was having a phone conversation with his son. I told Chris it was okay, how sorry I was and that he shouldn’t worry about the radio station. I finally got him to hang up, as if hanging up the phone with me made it really final for him.
I don’t remember how much longer I stayed until our program director came to relieve me, maybe a couple of hours more. It was like a dream, relating to him what had happened.
At Chris’s dad’s wake, Chris was in pretty good shape. His girlfriend who would later be his wife was with him. The one thing I will always remember about the wake was Chris saying to me, “You know what I regret most, Em? That I never gave my dad any grandchildren. My dad will never see my children.”
As was the case with Chris, I too have that same regret. My dad did live to walk me down the aisle which I will be forever grateful for, but between me being sick and my dad dying less than a year after my wedding, a grandchild for him was not to be either. I completely understand the significance of what Chris said to me that day.
And I will never forget the other side of that phone call where a life passed into death and peace.