Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Long Distance Call

The phone call came one cold January evening; it was my father’s ex-fiancé. They had been engaged for a short while, some time before he eventually met and married the woman who would be my mother. Dad never really talked about the personal details of the relationship, but he made it clear he didn’t think they would have been good together. Still, over the decades, she would contact my father. I don’t remember any visits from her, but my mother knew her enough to recognize her, and knew her voice on the phone.

She tried several times to get back together with my father, which of course really piqued mom, that she would have such gall, all those years later. I’m not sure when the last time was that Joanne contacted dad, but I was at least a teenager; perhaps it was even after Flo and I were married.

Dad called my mother over to the phone, and had her listen in for a few minutes. It was definitely Joanne’s voice, mom later concurred. All told, they chatted for at least twenty minutes. Shortly after the conversation ended, dad called me.

The strangest thing about the conversation with Joanne, at least so I thought at the time, was that she had been murdered six years earlier.

According to D. Scott Rogo in his book “Phone Calls from the Dead,” recipients of these calls generally appear to be “blocked” somehow from recalling that the person on the other side of the conversation has died, until the call is ended. This apparently is what happened to both of my folks.

Dad insisted it was Joanne, and said she’d spoken of things only she could have known about. Flo and I visited, and we all talked about the conversation at length. Mom shortly blanked on any details she might have remembered, but still remembers firmly that it was Joanne. At the time, dad recounted a few trivialities from the conversation, though he left out details of most of it; and when pressed, his response was disturbing. There was some part he didn’t want to speak of, and said he would talk about later. That part, he later denied remembering, or that it was in any way significant.

I brought it up a few more times, and while we occasionally chatted about how strange it all was, he always managed to evade any more discussion of the content of the conversation.

My father died of a heart attack three months after that phone call.

***

Later that year, I was home when I heard a gentle tapping on the front door. It rather startled me, because it was identical to my father’s unique knock; I’ve not heard it since.

When I looked outside, I saw it was the postman who had knocked. He had left a package, wrapped in brown paper, at the door.

The package was from Joanne’s mother, with whom I’d never had contact. It contained a photo of a group of soldiers–one of them was my father. There was a short note, just saying she thought I should have this.

It arrived on my birthday.


3AMBlue

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