Thursday, April 22, 2010
In some religions, it is thought that the afterlife contains all of the answers that eluded our physical beings.
If that is the case, I think my mother has spent the bulk of her last four years figuring out how to use the latest gadgets.
In her 63 years on Earth, my mom — or “Ma,” as I called her — was not “technologically savvy.”
She once called me home from a friend’s house to flip over the cassette tape on the stereo. She didn’t want to hold a cell phone (let alone use one), and flat out chose Beta over VHS.
But since she’s been gone, she has twice made her presence known unmistakably (at least by my reckoning) — and both were via cell phone.
The first occurrence happened a couple months after she died.
For Mother’s Day, my older brother, sister and I got together at a local restaurant to celebrate and toast to our mom.
I had brought my old, prepaid cell phone and set it on the table. I thought my husband, who was home with the kids, might need to reach me.
The phone rang only once. The name that came up on the cell phone: “Ma.”
I almost fell off my chair. I couldn’t answer it at first; I just held the screen up to my siblings.
Their eyes got big and we all shared a nervous laugh before someone said, “Well, we better answer it!”
It turns out it was my own phone alerting me to a voicemail message from my younger brother, who couldn’t be there that night.
But the phone, maybe because it was old or maybe because my mom is just that fast a learner, chose that night to identify itself under the name I had programmed for my mother’s home number months before.
Until the phone died, the phone continued to show “Ma” if there was a voicemail message.
The second episode happened last weekend. I got a new cell phone and was trying to program my contact names into the address book.
I had made a list from my more recent flip phone and was reading from it as I went. (I had no idea that I could save previous contact numbers to the sim card; maybe because I am not what you would call “technologically savvy,” either.)
At one point, I was looking at the list while I started typing into what I thought was the phone number field. When I looked back at the phone, I saw I had started dialing into the name field.
The name that had been typed: “Ma.”
Alone in my living room, all I could do was smile and shake my head. I looked up and said, “I hear you, Ma,” and closed my eyes to savor the moment.
It seems fitting that this column draws to a close almost four years to the day that it began.
Between a new job assignment with the newspaper and my kids getting older, it feels like the right time to sign off.
I have thoroughly enjoyed writing this column, primarily because it allowed me to also hear your stories and perspectives on so many shared topics — from puppy love to dealing with loss to saving stuffed animals and their little souls.
It also helped me to know we are all going through many of the same family growing pains, and that we can get through anything together.