I saw this posted somewhere today, and it cracked me up.
And made me think.
I used to be one of those folks who kept my cell phone in my purse or tote and didn’t worry about missing calls. We are old school and still have a land-line, so if you really need me, you can call the house. Or if I’m out, well, I just figured it was never that urgent. I could and would eventually return a call or a text.
Then Daddy got sick.
For nearly three years, I carried my cell phone faithfully, worried that Mama would need to call me for one reason or another–updates on Daddy, emergencies, or who knows what. I became one of THOSE people–the ones who find it necessary to check it every time it vibrates or pings. The ones who carry it in their pocket so they can have easy access. I haven’t carried my phone in my purse in I can’t remember how long. I have even bought shirts, jackets, jeans, etc. based on the pocket positioning and whether my phone would fit or not. True story.
There were times I was thankful I was so obsessed. Like when Mama had to stop on the drive home from Emory because Daddy was having an allergic reaction to his chemo medication. I was glad I had mine on me, and that we had insisted and put a cell phone in Mama’s hand to have at all times. She wasn’t happy about it, but after being able to call 911 and to call us, I never heard her fuss about it again.
Then there was the time that her car with NEW tires had a flat when she was on her way to take care of our cousin. It was the first time something like that had happened since Daddy died. I was thankful then that I was THAT one in our book group, clinching my cell phone in my hand or sitting it on the table where the vibrations made everyone look around. Mama said “don’t come.” She was out of luck on that one. Sometimes I’m not very obedient.
And there was the HospitalStay. What if a doctor needed to call me with an update or question? (They did. More than once.) What if I had to give verbal permission for a procedure? (I did.) What if my cousin’s nurse needed to call while I was with Mama at the other hospital? (Check.) What if I needed to take notes, convert her Celsius temperature to Fahrenheit, call my Aunt or siblings, be available to give updates? (Yes, Yes, Yes, and Yes.) My phone and clean underwear. I never left the house without either during that time. (And packed bags. Just in case. But that’s another story.)
More than once over the past few years I left home forgetting to grab my phone off the charger, and when I realized–usually within just a couple of minutes–I would go into panic mode. I either turned the Blazer around, or I had Aub call Mama from her phone and tell her how to reach us over the next few hours. And if my battery were low…..another panic attack. I had to be accessible. At All Times. For my own sanity–it wasn’t anything Mama ever insisted on or even asked me to do. I had to be ready at all times to take THE call. As if having my phone at the ready meant I was prepared for whatever might come. As. If.
I am that Mama, the one who insists the cell phone doesn’t come to the table. Most nights. When we are visiting with friends or family, I do the stare down and “eye” language until it is put away. But I have to admit, I’m having a mighty hard time putting my own away.
The emergencies are over. At least for now. I hope. But that’s the thing about emergencies, you don’t know you’re going to have one until you do. I’m paraphrasing Eeyore here.
And so I find myself still carrying my cell phone in my pocket, checking the charge on it, and as much as I try not to, I do glance down when it vibrates or pings. I really do not mean to be rude. It’s become second nature. Me and Pavlov’s dogs. Just another thing I need to break myself from now that we’re on the other side of hospital visits and terminal diagnoses…..add it to the list.
Lesson learned here–I shouldn’t judge those who go through their days with their cell phones attached to to their bodies like some kind of lifeline. I don’t know what is behind the need to have it at the ready. Sure, it might be simple–that the next text message could be from “him,” or that someone might have commented on their latest Facebook post–but it could be that the weight they are carrying around is a heavy one. And that the constant connection helps lighten the load. Somehow. I get it now.
I am going to try to let go and break myself of this need and obsession. Eventually. Maybe. But just in case, if I am sitting with folks and someone suggests the “cell phone game,” I don’t think I’ll play. For now, that’s a game I just can’t win.