Phone Calls With Dad
Like anyone living far from their birthplace, I settle for a Father's Day phone call with Dad rather than a face-to-face visit. While I'm sad to be across the country from him, the call is an adventure in and of itself. Chatting with Dad is never exactly normal.
The fist idiosyncrasy is my parents actually finding their phone. The creation of portable, wireless phones has led to the Where Did I Leave The Phone game. If Dad doesn't pick up right away(and he usually beats Mom to the punch), chances are the phone has moved to another room; it is never left or forgotten, it simply moves to a different room.
Crazy how that works.
Rule #1 If there's no answer, call back because Dad is looking for the phone.
Unless, of course, he isn't. Because sometimes the phone isn't charged, so it's not ringing. Other times the baseball game is on and he's not listening for my call.
Rule #2 If he doesn't pick up after the second call, don't stalk him. Try calling after the Dodger Game.
Of course, if my Dad answers the phone, he's going to mix it up and answer by saying, "Joe's Pool Hall."
Dad likes making people think they've called the wrong number. Like every other Dad I know, he enjoys messing with people like that.
Rule #3 Ask to speak to "Joe" - everyone needs old jokes
Sometimes I'll call and after we exchange a few pleasantries, Dad will segue the chat by saying, "Joy, I wanted to talk to you today because _____." (Fill in the blank with the a wide assortment of topics from choir concert news, to political observations, to questions about the dog or family.)
Whatever the topic, I'm immediately confused.
Didn't I call HIM? What are we talking about? How did I lose control of the conversation so fast?
Rule # 4 Stay flexible - Dad is still the boss of you
Even though Dad clearly enjoys answering the phone (when he can find it and between innings), it will never occur to him that you are actually calling to talk to him.
Instead he'll lead with "your Mother's not here, so you're stuck with me," or "Let me get your Mom for you..."
If Mom IS around, you'll have 1/16th of a second to stop him from setting down the phone and looking for Mom.
"GAAAAAAILLLLLLL -- IT'S JOY!!" he'll scream.
Rule #5 After saying hello, always say you're calling to speak with HIM!
The truth is Dad doesn't enjoy long phone calls.
He wants to cut to the chase and figure out if there's something interesting to report on the family, if you're planning a visit, or if you want to speak to Mom. Otherwise HE wants to tell you that he's proud of you, who you should vote for (though he's uncharacteristically quiet on this election cycle), and to let you know how he's praying for you.
At this point, his gratitude for your amazingness (because, if you care enough to call, you ARE amazing!!) will usually prompt him to tears which is awkwardly sweet. Though the tears aren't 100% reliable, what you can count on prior to any sign off is a prayer.
"Joy, let me pray with you..."
These six words starts the blessing which is so notoriously Dad. At this age and stage of life, Dad is mostly interested in how he can speak words of encouragement. He blesses a string of factors in my life: kids, husband, work, church, studies, whatever comes to mind.
More often than not I'm listening to the prayer while navigating Atlanta traffic, shooing away a dog begging for attention, or trying to block out playing children, but still I hear his words. I recognize his gifts to me and realize, yet again, the point of the call has been hijacked. I can't bless Dad nearly as much as he can bless me.
What a gift.
And so the final rule...
Rule #6Cherish your Dad
I am so grateful for mine.