A few days into the sequester, I received a phone call from one of the outreach team at my church. A network of phone callers was being organized to reach out to older parishioners who were homebound. The irony was not missed by me. I met the description. I received the names and made the calls. I was amazed by the warm response.
The first call was to the husband of one of the choir members. He did not attend the church, but I could feel his smile when he introduced himself and told me he had watched the one line service the previous day and he was deeply grateful for it. As we chatted I learned that he had children the same ages as mine and had been classmates of my kids.
My dad was a telephone man…you remember the guy in the distinctive olive-green truck. He climbed poles with ease, strung wire and installed phones. My brother and I tagged along with him when a Sunday emergency called him to the “main frame” at the office. It was “take your daughter to work” three decades before it was the thing to do! We always had the latest equipment at home even the prized Pink Princess phone, coveted by teen age girls back then.
In 1959 I boarded a plane with my two little boys and moved to California. I did not return to New York for five years but what tethered me to my family were the weekly calls from my mom and the calls my dad made from his office when he heard a funny joke and had to share it with me. I have often said that I was prenatally marked by a phone. It is in my DNA. I worked a crisis line for a decade in the 60’s and in my position at the dental society I was the “go-to” for any patient who had a complaint.
After my first reach out phone calls, I felt emboldened to call friends I had not talked to in a while. “Talked to” was the key. I wanted to hear a voice. I realized that I had come to connect with email so much that my phone did not ring often. I made a list…old classmates…a cousin I only exchanged holiday cards with…a former neighbor, a boy (now a man!) who attended my fifth birthday party and on the list grew. Sometimes I added “face time” to the call. With time on my hands I enjoyed unhurried conversations. It has a symbiotic affect. One call led to another.
I will continue reaching out. I loved hearing at the end of the call, “Thank you so much for calling. It made my day.” And it made mine, too.
Submitted by Joan Stevenson, Contra Costa County – Lafayette.