January 01
Fairy Godmother
_________________________________________________ From time to time I include videos of me playing some instrument or another - all the songs I play are written by me unless otherwise stated.


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JULY 9, 2011 2:41PM

Give Me a Call When You Get There!

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As she left to go to work this afternoon I called out my usual mantra, chanted each time Ella Rose leaves the house.

“Give me a call when you get there!”

“I will!” she yelled back, and then the door separated me from complete security.  I am never completely secure when she is gone.

As the silence settled like an autumn frost, I recalled the first time I ever heard those words spoken.

It was January 1974.  I had stuffed a semester’s worth of books, records, clothes, and a red popcorn popper into Greg’s car and was running down the cracked concrete steps.  He was scowling, impatient with me.  “Hurry up!  I want to get to school before dark!”

Greg was returning for his fourth semester at the small Tennessee college we attended.  I was enrolling for my first semester.  Both of us from the same home town, he had offered to give me a ride to school in exchange for typing his term papers.  

As I opened the old Buick’s door I waved back quickly to Mom and Pop, standing together on the front porch.  “Give me a call when you get there!” Mom called out to me, and the Buick disappeared in a haze as it barreled down Poplar Drive, turned right at the stop sign, and whisked me away into my future.

I would make the five hour trip home from college many times over the next few years, and each time I left to return to school Mom and Pop would stand on that front porch and wave.  And the last words I always heard just as I drove away were Mom’s chanting, praying voice, “Give me a call when you get there!”

I graduated from school and for twenty-five years lived in states other than my own.  I came home as often as I could, which usually was once or twice a year.  And always, always, the last words I heard before I drove down Poplar Drive were Mom’s faithful admonition.  “Give me a call when you get there!”

I was in my early forties and had come home for a week.  I was living in Massachusetts, working in Connecticut.  I was successful in every way one counts success.  As I was leaving Kentucky that last morning Mom walked down those same old concrete steps with me.  Pop, recovering from a heart attack, stayed in his old green recliner in the den.

As we approached my car Mom hugged me and smiled with a tired sadness I did not understand at the time.  “You know, Peanut,” she said.  “I don’t worry about you anymore.  I know you’re going to be just fine!”

She kissed me, and I pulled slowly away from the curb, drove down Poplar Drive, and turned left at the stop sign.

Her words haunted me throughout the twenty-five hour drive.  I did not know in those hours that we were transitioning.  I only knew I felt a merging of self-confidence, glad that she was secure in my future and my talents.  I also felt an inexplicable sense of vulnerability, as if her old words had been more than mere parting words of farewell.  They were a blessing, a prayer to the gods for my protection, a prayer to me to take care of myself, a slow unfolding of her letting go and making peace with her own vulnerability.  A prayer that she no longer needed to pray.

“Give me a call when you get there!”

I did not know that day that it would be the last time I would ever leave Mom and Pop as I journeyed back into my own world.  A year later they both became ill, and I returned home for good, first to take care of them, later to bury them.

Many years have passed now, and I have a different kind of family.  In this one, I am the oldest resident, and I cherish these people in a way I never imagined was possible.  And when my sweet Ella Rose leaves the house, even for a short trip, I am compelled to pray the same prayer that was prayed over me so many times all those years ago.

“Give me a call when you get there!”

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speechless in the Uk.

rated with a nervous UG.
{ handwash only}
I'm already in a vulnerable, quiet space where I am aware of impermanence. I understand your beautiful words so well.
Creek - I didn't know you knew how to do speechless! HAHAHAHAHAHA!

Heidibeth - Indeed! Impermanence is a paradox - it's the most natural thing in creation, and yet keeps us feeling lopsided. Thank you for your encouraging words. They mean alot to me!
I have tears in my eyes. My husband said that to me every night when I left his hospital room, until the day he went into a comma. The first night he could no longer speak to me, I called the ICU nurse and asked her if she would go in and tell him I made it home alright.
Lots of power in those words of love, thank you for the reminder.
rated with love
Strong writing and powerful love. A grand post.
Thank you for this poignant reminder, Kit, that we can and should not take anything for granted in life. Every moment with our loved ones is a moment to cherish and imprint in our memory.
this reminds me of the other one - "write when you get work"
ahhh, yes. Those were the parting phrase I heard first from my grandmother every time we left her house after the visit and then from my mom. She never stopped saying it to me. But I stopped saying it to my kids...I just pray really hard until I feel they've made it.
RP - Tear jerking moments, indeed, aren't they? Such is what makes it good to love, and to be loved!!!

Scylla - Your comment means the world to me. I know some of what lies behind it, and your insight is particularly precious!

Fusun - Yes. I was fortunate - Mom and Pop's love was so powerful I was compelled to nothing but be imprinted by it! Sad for those who never were such compelled!
Wow You really hit home with this post today. I spent the day with my mom. She always used to worry that I wouldn't make it home safely especially if it was dark. I would flippantly say..."Don't worry, I'll be fine and I don't need to call." She has finally quit saying it and I think she knows that I am way more competent right now than she is at 92. If I could only think of her words as words of love instead of fear and control. But I'm not there yet. Glad you are.
Terrific post Kit. And my wife always had a similar message for me when I was leaving every week for a business trip. There's something comforting about it--that normalcy of love.
noah - That, too!

Mime - I know that feeling! I never understood what Mom meant when she used to say she'd be on her "tin ear" til she heard from me that I was safe. Now I know!

zanelle - It's funny you mention that. I never saw her words as anything less than freeing love. There was nothing controlling in Mom's great affection for me. What a blessing it was, and continues to be!

Walter - I like that phrase you give, this "normalcy of love." That phrase has wrapped around my shoulders and given me peace for most of my adulthood!
This was wonderful Kit. The "transitions" of life, you've captured it so well.
Good and comforting words to hear, Kit. Of course nowadays with all the cellphones the calls are more frequent. "Yep, decided to get a motel tonite. Should get in tomorrow sometime. Love ya..."

Poignant, nicely told reminiscence.
With a tug at my heart I read your words. My husband knows, without my telling him any more, that when he ends his daily hour long commute to work, he is to call me and let the phone ring once. I don't answer, I just need to know he's safe. He forgot; once.