Making “that call”

I’m sure glad the weather broke a bit, so that I could pound the pavement some. I needed to take a fast walk to get the morning behind me.


It has been awhile since I had to make that first call. Even though it was over 5-and-a-half years ago, I remember it like it was yesterday. Not just that call itself, but the before and the after.  The next couple of times I had to make the call are a little fuzzy.  That first call is a story for another day.

Today the “before” began with a phone call from my sister Paula. A little bit later there was a text from the preacher, Ray. Then I made a bunch of unanswered calls, and then exchanged texts with both of them.

Two hours after Paula and I first talked, I decided that it was time to make “the call.”

“The call” was to the dispatcher at the office of the sheriff in St. Francois county….where my almost-91-year-old father lives alone in the country.

He has lived in that house outside Doe Run longer than any other place in his life. 29 years. And he doesn’t know any of his neighbors. Not even their names. Nobody I can contact to check on him, other than the sheriff. Fuck Me!!


Today was the same fact pattern as before: numerous calls to both the landline and the cell phone go unanswered. When I made that first call to the sheriff back in 2011, the folk’s landline was busy and they weren’t answering the cell. My Mom often forgot to press “End” at the conclusion of a call on the landline. Like today, the ringtone volume on the cell had been turned down to 0.1.

I’m not sure how many times my sister or the pastor tried both linesthis morning, but I made a dozen calls to the house and the cell before I called dispatch and asked to have someone go check on Dad.

Then I get to wait for the phone to ring…thinking about “the after.”

There are lots of possibilities:

A. The sheriff calls and tells me that everything is fine.

B. The sheriff calls and tells me that Dad died in his sleep…or in his blue chair…or at his desk…or in the yard…or wherever.

C. The sheriff calls and tells me that Dad is alive and appears to have had a stroke.

D. Dad calls to thank me for having the sheriff check on him….and says that he hadn’t gotten any calls on either phone….and has no idea why not.


Once again it was “D.” I was glad to hear his voice and not that of some deputy or EMT.

Dad’s landline was dead this morning. (Later I called his provider to report the outage. Another unsatisfying contact with AT&T. Fuck Me!!)

Once again he turned the cell’s ringtone off. (That one is a losing battle. It’s never gonna stop. He’s never gonna stop turning it off and not knowing it. I repeat: Fuck Me!!)

Thankfully it was NOT “C.” I don’t want him to spend the last years of his life in a nursing home like his three nonagenarian siblings did.


This is the first time I’ve written about family. In my first blog piece I wrote: “There are lots of things that I want to write about that might upset friends and family. I’m thinking that they know more about my life and my lifestyle than they acknowledge.”

My relationship with my Dad is complex. I’ve got lots of “dad stories” but I’m not sharing them for awhile. I did share my dream of how I wanta die. I’ve got a dream of Dad’s last day too. I might share that sometime soon…I have already shared it with Dad. Most of the other family stories will have to wait.

Until then:  Just Be.  Things happen….that’s all they ever do.

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