Written February 26, 2020

A couple of nights ago I dreamt that my dad’s phone was ringing.  His phone was missing for the first three months after he passed, so we’d only known the location of it for two months at this time.  It’d been safely tucked away with its last text messages of photos with his great grandson on his birthday less than two weeks before he went into hospice care, still untouched.  No one powered his phone back on.  It’s been silent now for about six months.

But I hear it ring, in my dream and partly in my conscious mind. In my dream I think, “Why is his phone ringing?  And why is it over here?” as I walk toward the sound coming beside my chair.  I begin to shuffle through the paperwork my mom had given to me to help sort out, looking for the ringing phone, when I hear my dad answer.

His voice was so clear.

“Hello?”  he said.

“Alvie?”  I heard my mom question.

“I’m here honey.” my dad answered.

“Oh Alvie” mom kind of cries, “I miss you so much.”

“It’s okay, sweetheart, I’m right here.” I hear his sweet voice say.

I can’t remember all the details of the call, but they spoke for several minutes. It was as if my mom was telling him everything that’s happened over the last six months, while he replied several times with “uh-huh”, “hmmm”, and “oooh”.

In my dream I’m holding his phone while this conversation is taking place. I think, “How can this be happening? I’m asleep, I’m dreaming.” I turn around and see myself asleep on the couch – really right where I was.  I’m stirring a bit and my eyes open slightly.

In reality, I thought I’d just been woken by a ringing phone and I heard talking in my home.

In my dream, I’m confused as to how my dad is talking to my mom when I’m standing there holding his phone, and I know he left earth six months ago.

I felt like I was eavesdropping, but I didn’t want to stop listening.  I wanted to hear my parents talk together again.  I wanted to hear his voice on the phone.  All winter long I’ve missed his be-sure-to-leave-some-water-running phone calls on our coldest nights.  I missed talking about getting to mow the yard one more time before autumn ended.  I’ve missed him calling to tell me they were just outside of town (so I could come carry their groceries in).  I’ve missed calling him to ask him about whatever was on my mind at the time.  I’ve missed hearing his voice, so there was no way I was going to put that phone down.

The call came to an end with him saying, “Well sweetheart, you have a lot of things to do yet. You enjoy that, okay?  And I’ll see you later.”

“Okay,” mom says, “I love you.”

“I love you too, honey.” he answered.  “Bye, bye.”

And he was gone.

In my dream I stood there looking at the phone, waiting and hoping the call wasn’t over.  I heard myself stir on the couch and I looked over to see myself lying there with a puzzled look on my face.

Rubbing my eyes, I turned to see if I could see myself standing by my chair holding his phone, but I was gone.  He was gone.  The conversation was over.

A tear rolled down my cheek and hit my pillow as I whispered, “Thank you.”

Today when my mom called to say she was stopping by for a minute, I thought again about this phone conversation.  I wanted to tell her, but I didn’t want her to cry.  She’s had such a terrible time making her way in the world without him, so I try not to talk too much about him because I always cry when I do.  And when I cry, she cries too.  But today I really feel compelled to talk to her about it, so when she drives up, I run out to the car to take care of the business she’s brought by; and then I ask her.

“Mom, have you dreamt about Alvin in the last two or three days?”

            “Yes, I have.” she says.  “Why?”

And so I tell her this story, the first part anyway – that his phone rang and I was listening in on their conversation in my living room while I held his phone.  She began to cry and said that the other morning she’d woken with her phone lying right beside her on the bed.  She’d dreamt that night that she’d talked to him and had said, “Oh Alvie, I miss you so much.”

 

*Alvin H. G. Patterson is my second dad.  He and my mom married when I was young.  Though I introduced him and still refer to him as “my dad” (because he is) I always called him by his first name.  When I was really young, I nicknamed him Alvie; but stopped using that when mom picked up saying it.

If you’d like to read more about my dad, there’s a post on Facebook I made about him and also his obituary, that I had the honor of writing.

If you have a loved one you’d like to share a memory of, join me in a Facebook group I’ve created just for that purpose.

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