Sometimes I put off calling people until the time is right. People like my dad, for instance. He hates it when I phone him from the street. He can hear the sirens and the honks and the people rushing by, and it makes him anxious. “Where are you, Laura? Just call me when you’re home,” he’ll say, annoyed. My out-of-NY friends don’t mind as much about background noise, but I always feel like I have to block off a chunk of time to call them, and then we inevitably play phone tag for weeks until all the stars align.
With Pop Pop, it’s different. I call him whenever — in the morning walking to the Subway, around 10 a.m. grabbing coffee, when I’m out on my lunch break — and he picks up. He’s always there, sitting in his chair in the living room, reading the paper, and he’s so happy to hear from me. Nowadays, it’s easy to silence your ringer and let it go to voicemail, just wait to talk until the moment is right, all the conditions are right. Pop Pop doesn’t play that game. I call and he answers. Simple as that.
Today I called at the end of my work day. The sun was setting over the Hudson, and I stood outside my office as coworkers left for the night. I like calling him from work or after work, actually, because it helps put the day in perspective. Was the meeting really that bad? Does what that person said really matter in the long run? No.
Pop Pop will answer, “Hello? Oh Lah-rah! What are you doing, sweetie? There’s nothing much to report from Eburg…” That’s how it usually goes. Sometimes we talk for a couple minutes, sometimes we talk for nearly an hour. But usually they’re short conversations.
Before I hang up, I say something like, “Well, I was just thinking about you and wanted to call and tell you that I love you. So much. Everyone knows about you, Pop Pop, because I talk about you all the time.” Some days we both start crying, knowing that our relationship is so special, so rare, and that there will come a time when he’s not a phone call away anymore. He’s 94. End of life is a reality, as much as it hurts to type that. But I know I’m fortunate — we are both fortunate — to have each other in our lives, and to have had the opportunity to get to know each other for 27 years. And right now, he’s available whenever I am, just the tap of an iPhone away.