For this posting, I was initially going to write about waking up in the early hours of the morning, and what I do until the rest of the world is awake. But decided there was something more important playing in my mind.
In the next couple of months, Suzanne and I will move to a smaller community twenty miles south of Tucson. At our age, this move is a big deal, and we look towards it with trepidation and excitement. I’m determined to make it a new fun adventure. To prepare for the move, we’ve begun parting with things that have little sentimental value and will not fit into our new home and have started the packing process. During this activity, I came upon a photo of my mother that was likely taken before I was born.
My mom died when she was thirty-one and I was ten. I do not use the phrase she “passed away,” because it does not fully suggest the significance and impact of the death of a loved one, especially for a young boy.
I showed the photograph to Suzanne and said, “she was really pretty. No wonder my dad fell in love with her.” Those were the words I spoke, but my voice cracked, and it was difficult not to cry as I said them. My mother has been dead sixty-five years, and today it was difficult to speak about her without crying. Some pain is never gone.
In the photograph, her eyes and curly hair are dark, she is smiling, and her fingers look slim, long, and elegant. She has a small gap between her front teeth; and rather than looking like a flaw, it looks charming to me. She is smiling. The photograph is only one of three things I have of my mother. None of those three is any memory of her. I suspect that the absence of her memory came about as a psychic protection against the loss of a parent when I was young.
She was pretty, and I’ve been told she loved me, and she loved my dad. Maybe at this point in my life, that is enough to know.
I came upon a book recently, and it somehow connects to what I’ve written above. The book is the phone booth at the edge of the world by Laura Imai Messina. A serendipitous find that turned out to be a very lucky day for me. The novel recounts a factual incident that occurred in Japan in 2011. An earthquake and resulting tsunami killed several thousand people. A phone booth (the wind phone) located in a remote area was erected and a disconnected phone was placed on a stand to allow visitors to speak with their loved ones who had died. This place exists today in Japan, and yearly thousands visit to speak with loved ones now gone.
The story is beautifully and skillfully written. The losses, the pain, the redemption and finding comfort are artfully written by Messina. When reading this book, you find not only hope, but you will also walk beside, and then intimately begin to know well-developed and likeable characters.
For me I also felt a longing. A longing that does not have to come true in order for me to feel joy. I see myself standing in that phone booth, making a call.
“Hi mom. Tell me about you. Tell me about me.”
A line from the phone booth at the edge of the world.
“Life decays, countless cracks form over time. But it was those very cracks, the fragility, that determined a person’s story; that made them want to keep going, to find out what happens next.”
Go well, David
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