Everyone has a set of numbers that when they pop up on your caller ID, you freeze. You glance at the clock. You look back on the phone and, with hesitation, answer, while preparing yourself for the worst case scenario.
In high school, that set of numbers was anyone connected with my ruling committee (Mom and Daddy). When any number from this committee would show up,especially after ten pm, I'd freeze. Immediately, I'd go through the latest possible-fib I told either Mom or Daddy; where did I say I would be? When did I say I'd be home? Who did I say I'd be with? I'd calmly answer the phone, making sure there was no outside noises that would lean my Daddy to assume that his eldest daughter would even think of stretching the truth as to where she was. I wonder how kids before my time of big clunky cell phones (without DATA!! Holy heck) kept their adrenaline going while out with friends, past curfew. There were several occasions when I was caught, thanks to gabby parents. Perhaps that's a good thing of living in small town USA, everyone gabs. Everyone. Even if they don't' realize the grounding repercussions their side comment "Why, no, Monica left well before 10 pm. She said she had to make it home to curfew. She's such a great kid. Lucky parents!". Yeah, thanks Mrs. B. Good bye chunky cell phone.
Funny how with time, that set of numbers that causes your heart to stop and the hairs on your head prickle, does not change. It still consists of three sets: Mom's cell phone, Daddy's cell phone, and our home phone ("The Ponderosa" on my phone). Now, though, thank the heavens that the reasons why my heart stops when these numbers show on the ID, do not revolve around being out past curfew. It's not about me being in trouble, anymore, with the parents. I'll leave that guilt trip for the hubby.
No, now the reasons why my world stops and I glance at the clock, is because the worst case scenario of my ruling committee calling, is telling me that someone dear passed away. Last week, it was Mom calling just to let me know that Grandpa Bergkamp had a possible reaction with sore throat medication and was in the hospital. The world stops. For a brief 10 seconds, I'm not a 27 year old farm wife, hashing her way through Pioneer Women cookbooks. I'm not a young wife who stills enjoys doing the laundry of her husband. I'm 5 years old, on their dairy farm and it's Sunday evening supper. All my aunts and uncles and cousins are there, too. We're just getting ready to sit down for supper and we're all waiting for Grandpa to start the "In the name of the father...." for the prayer before meals. I'm the lucky cousin who got to sit on the left hand side of Grandpa, next to the window. Even though I am far from my cousins, sitting at the card table (this was before we had 40 cousins to sit. At this point, there are only 10), I'm next to Grandpa. The guy who looks like a Bergkamp, with his white forehead, white arms, and wide face. He is a legend. He's not the sappy Grandpa who tells me he loves me all the time. However, he doesn't need to. I know he does, because he is my Grandpa. We have the same last name. We have the same wide forehead.
That call. I hate those calls. Although, everything turns out fine and he's released several days later, I still awkwardly look at the caller id. One of these times, the call will be "the" call. The call that automatically time travels me back to those days, when being punished meant staying the car when we got to Grandma and Grandpa's house, while watching my sisters and cousins play outside on the dairy. Those Sunday's that turned an empty yard to a yard full of minivans, suburbans, station wagons, and trikes.
No, we do not live forever. And I know that "the call" will happen. Until then, and after then, my heart will always stop short and I'll always look at the clock, whenever those few numbers show on the id.