Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Heaven Phone By: Karen Pilarski



Someone posted on my Facebook a picture of a phone. The caption read: “I wish I could call heaven to hear your voice again.” Something stirred within me.  

 Emotions strong enough to blow over rows of cars buried down, now erupting. Over the past week I thought about family trees and how in order to grow there is a need to know where the roots began. Sadly many of my relatives have passed away. As a child I never took advantage of learning about my heritage or family history. 

My mom often supplied us children with ample embarrassing stories of my relatives. For example the story of my aunt wearing a wig and coming home drunk.

My grandmother asked her if she was drunk and my aunt said no. My grandmother slapped her face and the wig went flying. To this day that story tickles my insides and causes a soft giggle to erupt.  

Then was the story of my mom hiding out like a bandit in the bushes to avoid school. Like my mom, I have funny stories to share with others about life in a big family.

The selfishness in me wants more knowledge. I’m jealous of friends that have their relatives still here. They can ask questions and remember better know that they are older. I missed my chance. 

My grandfather used to work for the Milwaukee Sentinel as a printer press operator. What made him go into that line of work? Did he enjoy the newspaper industry?  What was my grandmother like as a child? Why did my uncles become police officers? A burning question is who else besides me used to write? Do I bare a resemblance to other relatives? 

If there was a heaven phone I would certainly take the opportunity to ask any question that has lingered since they departed to the pearly gates.

My phone would be a Mickey Mouse phone for my aunt. I remember when my mom would make us call our grandparents as youngsters to thank them for the five dollar bill in a birthday card. Soft spoken I would ask “Hi uh hi, is uhhh Grandma there?” There are nine children in my family and somehow my grandparents would know our voices! 

My first attempt with the heaven phone would obviously be to inquire how they are doing and if they are happy. The goofy part of me would ask if they bumped into Elvis or Elizabeth Taylor. As a writer I would attempt at getting some hot dead celebrity gossip. I would vent about my job and family drama (in-laws or my own family).  

Knowing my relatives they would tell me to have fun and be fun. Oh and I’m sure they would tease me like relatives do.  I would tease back calling my aunt, auntie big nose or tell grandpa that I refuse to drink Tab soda. Ever. Again.

 Possibly they would tell me they are proud of me and my accomplishments. I’m sure they would lecture me on my self doubt or arguing with my mother.  Maybe my great grandparents would get on the horn and chat to introduce themselves to me. 

The thing that has always bothered me about the phone is I can’t see people only hear them. I would love to feel my grandmother’s nails on my arm or my grandfather messing up my hair (against my wishes). I miss feeling my aunt giving me a hug and kissing her cheek. I miss my uncle patting me on the back. All the new gadgets and technology in the world couldn’t compensate for that personal touch.

I think of all the tragedies that have occurred such as 9/11, Sandy Hook shooting and the Boston Marathon bombing. Even if it is a small consolation, a phone call beats talking out loud to an empty house or a picture of a loved one. It is a comforting to think about the chance to hear the voice on the other end and other side. 

What we can do now is respect our history and ask questions while our loved ones are still alive. If god forbid they leave this world too early, we can at least keep the memory alive by talking out loud to the sparkling stars above and to the ones left behind.

Closing eyes tightly and listening closely to the wind, there is a hint of a voice within the breeze.

Trying to reach you.