Mom turned 85 years old in 2010 and although it was progressively difficult to speak to her on the phone (she 'lost' her dreaded hearing-aid fairly often), I phoned her about three times a week anyways. She was in Manitoba and I was on the coast of British Columbia and it was a 60+ hour drive there and back… a torturous journey I couldn’t manage too often. There were too many years in-between visits and I missed her a lot.
Once I called her after having already spoken to her the previous day, and this was how our conversation (and I use the term loosely here) went:
DENISE: Hi Mom! It’s Denise. (*she had 6 children and we all sound similar, so introducing ourselves from the get-go was always advisable)
DENISE (louder): Denise! Your favorite daughter! (*my standard line that she always scoffed at; I knew she would recognize that, if not actually me.)
MOM (laughing): Deneezy? You again? You’re just like a little mouse peeking around the corner all the time! I can’t get rid of you!
DENISE (being silly): I’m just here for the cheese!
MOM: What cheese?
DENISE (louder): You said I was a little mouse and I said I was just there for the cheese!
MOM: What mouse?
DENISE (much louder): You called me a little mouse…
MOM (indignantly): A mouse? We don’t have a mouse in the house? Who told you that?
DENISE (feeling like she’s in a ‘Who’s On First?’ comedy sketch): I didn’t say you had a mouse, I said you called me a mouse, and I said I only wanted the cheese…
PREGNANT PAUSE #2
MOM (exasperated): I don’t understand what you mean.
DENISE (very loud): Mom...never mind, I was just joking. There is no mouse.
PREGNANT PAUSE #3
MOM (putting the phone down and calling out to my brother who was in the next room): Ken! Come find out what the hell Deneezy is talking about. I don’t know why, but she thinks we have mice…
KEN: What's going on?
DENISE (explains the entire scenario and they howl with laughter): Okay…now can you please explain to Mom what I said?
KEN (shouting): Mom! You didn’t tell me you had a mouse in the house! I’m leaving!
It was always a crap-shoot to whether or not Mom was wearing her hearing-aid when I called, and we had many a classic conversation like the one above. Frustrating? You bet. Maddening? Sometimes. But I tell you, I would give anything to hear her not-hearing me just one more time…