After leaving my son’s house and visiting with our new grandbaby, my beloved and I left in our separate cars to make our way home. Having both arrived from different locations, we visited with Aunt Marion in the nursing home first, and then stopped by my son’s house for a quick peek at the baby.
Always driving a head of me, it is like he is surveying the landscape for danger, clearing the way of all obstacles that could hurt me or interfere with any plans for the evening.
Soon the cell phone in the side pocket of my handbag will ring and it will be him. I have learned to remove it from the side pocket when I leave work and place it on the passenger seat beside me as I pull out of the parking lot and drive into traffic. That is how sure I am that he will call. Even though technically it is against the law in New York to chat on the cell phone while driving, I find it less hazardous to have it at arms reach rather than having to fumble around for it.
Most of the times it’s just to chat, to find out how my day went, or what he accomplished that day. He is still the ultimate list maker, even though he is supposed to be on sabbatical for the summer.
At first I was annoyed at the daily calls because I felt he was checking up on me, or just trying to control the day. But then I remembered my Mom and Dad and how they used to communicate.
It was in the early 1970’s and the CB Radio was all the rage. Used mainly for truckers, a few enlightened folks had them installed in their vehicles. They gave themselves cute call names, “handles” if you were really into it.
It was also during this time that my mother opened her own shop, an artist’s dream come true, the reward for having put her career on the back burner and raise a family. Although my father had a 9-5 job in the city, he would join her on the weekends when her shop was the busiest. My mother and father did everything together, so making money was no different. It was as if they were mowing the lawn together; just another list of things to get done that day.
Sometimes during the summer months I would travel to the shop with her, not really my idea of a good time. It was more of a punishment, to have to be with the customers instead of hanging out with my friends. Luckily she had another daughter who loved doing that, and pretty soon I was set free.
But sometimes on a Saturday afternoon in winter, when it got dark at 4:30 p.m. and we hadn’t locked the doors til 6pm, I think it was good for me to be with my mother so she wouldn’t have to make the 20 minute drive alone.
But she wasn’t alone – not really.
“Niner, niner, are you there, Patsy?” the CB speaker would squawk, and she would look over at me, a big smile on her face. It was my father, calling out to her.
“Niner, niner, a big howdy do to you, Patsy here” she would reply in her best truckereeze and wink at me.
I would roll my eyes.
“You just left each other!” I would moan, not understanding what the big deal was.
“Is that the whiner in the front seat I’m hearing, ten four?” he would reply and I would groan all the louder.
“YOU GUYS ARE SO WEIRD!” I would scream back to the speaker, still clutched in my mother’s hand, while she commandeered the steering wheel with her left.
“That would be our oldest, the big mouth, niner-niner, ten four” and she would laugh, sticking her tongue out at me, and amused at her own creativity.
By this time I had been bored to tears, and closed my sixteen year old eyes to see if it would make the drive home go any quicker. It didn’t.
But I could listen to them as they would joke back and forth, his green army jeep in front of us, while we trailed behind in the old blue station wagon, passing the street lights as we got closer to the Long Island Expressway.
Talking about what they wanted for dinner, and what they were going to do the next day, I can hear those conversations in the back of my mind.
Realizing it was how they said they loved each other, I smile guiltily now as I have my own CB conversations in my own car, these many years later.
“So I’ll see you home then, Sweetie?” he asks as I am readying to turn on to the highway, he having made sure the roads were safe and we would be home together once again.
“That’s a big ten four niner, niner” and I laugh as I explain my memory of them, always ending their conversations the same way.
“That’s a big ten-four, niner niner. Over and out.”
Never over –never out.