Sunday evenings were my night to talk with Mom and Dad. Previously it was Fridays, and I think Mondays were a night for a while. But ever since I moved away, there has always been a night that we have set aside to talk. In general, though, we didn’t talk much between our weekly phone calls, but when we did, it was an evening call, since they knew I wasn’t home all day.
A day-time phone call between our weekly “appointments” generally meant something was wrong someone was in the hospital, someone had an accident, a pet died, or some other bad thing.
One weekday I came home to my apartment and checked my messages, I heard this one from my Dad, “Hi Barb….I just wanted to tell you how much I love you.” His voice was crackly with emotion. I went into a bit of a panic. The way he was talking, the timing of the call, the words he said made me wonder what could be wrong. However irrational it may have seemed, I wondered if he was thinking about killing himself, given the emotion in his voice, and he was calling everyone before he did.
I called him immediately, on his cell phone since I knew he wouldn’t be home from work yet. All the while thinking the worst.
Dad barely picked up before I asked him, “What’s going on, Dad??”
He, as always, was casual, “Oh, you mean with the message I left you?”
I was exasperated, “Yes, what’s going on, are you okay??”
I think Dad finally heard in my voice how worried I was. “I’m okay, I’m okay.”
“So, what was that all about?”
“What, I’m not allowed to tell my daughter how much I love her?”
“Well, yes, but maybe not mid-week in the middle of the day! I was worried you were thinking about doing something stupid.”
“Oh, no, I’m sorry. No, I was just thinking about how Mark just found out that Devon was pregnant again. Remember she had been told she wouldn’t be able to get pregnant, but here she is with her second child. And what a pleasant surprise for them. Then I started remembering what a pleasant surprise you were for your Mom and me. I just needed to call you and tell you how much I love you.”
He’d been driving to work and imagining his life without the pleasant little surprise that was me. He and Mom hadn’t had trouble getting pregnant like my cousin; instead, I’m the poster girl for failed birth control. Heh. But he wanted me to know how much he loved having me as a little surprise.*
Yeah. He was that kind of guy. And I miss him.
*Though I always imagine that their first thought on finding out Mom was pregnant was “oh crap…I thought we were done with this.