I'm feeling really upset and disappointed that my two lovely busy grownup daughters hardly ever phone me. I don't have a problem about phoning them, but you can bet your bottom dollar when I do, at whatever time of day or evening, it's inconvenient because they are driving, cooking, out with girlfriends, helping with homework, etc. I have friends whose daughters phone them every day, or several times a week. I'm interested in what my girls and my grandchildren are doing and I miss them. At the moment I'm feeling not just mildly disappointed, but getting cross. What I would really like to say to them is this letter, below, but maybe it's safer to send it to Gransnet . . . . . . . . ! Any advice, views, gratefully received.
"I need to write this. Life expectancy for women in the UK varies from around 89 in Kensington to 83 in Manchester. I am not planning to move to either of those places so I’m aiming for, say, 85 – another 14 years.
I would appreciate it if you would spend 15 minutes each week talking to me on the phone. Yes I know I can look at Facebook, and get all the information you broadcast to friends, people you met through work, or sat next to once on a train, the jokes, the emojis, the sentimental pictures of kittens, the cartoons featuring Donald Trump, and re-posted requests to help find lost dogs, but it’s not quite the same as a conversation.
A 15 minute phone call each week would add up to 7.58 days of time spent in conversation together between now and when I die. Talking of which, on present showing, it will be like my sister’s guinea pigs all over again. She promised to look after them, but boredom set in quite quickly. When they died (not from neglect – my Mum stepped in and cared for them) my sister failed to notice they were no longer there, for about a fortnight. And so it will be with me. You’ll ring up one day, and someone else will answer my phone, and when you ask to speak to me the answer will be ‘No you can’t, she died, a fortnight ago’.
But going back to those 7.58 days we might spend in conversation together before that happy event occurs, it’s not long is it? About the same amount of time as the week we had camping in the Lake District – your first time under canvas, and a happy wet week of pony trekking, paddling, and cooking outdoors. It went in a flash. It’s about the same length of time you spent being ill with measles. You said that went quickly and you can’t remember anything about it, but I can. Sleepless nights, trying to comfort you and do anything I could to help you feel better. Ditto chickenpox, although maybe 7.58 days is equal to two lots of chickenpox which came and went more quickly. It’s the equivalent of quite a few parents’ evenings, shopping trips, burning midnight oil to sew play costumes because you forgot to mention them until the night before the dress rehearsal.
7.58 days, counted out in hours, adds up to a few year’s worth of taxi service – Brownies, gymnastics, missed the school bus, youth club, sleepovers at Debbie’s, riding lessons. Some of those things were at unsociable hours, but I don’t mind if you ring me at times that suit you.
Yes I know I could ring you. And I do. And your answer machine message is polite and efficient. I do not want to talk to you while you’re driving. Yes I know you’re busy, and I can remember what it was like to have a full time job, teenagers, a house to clean. I also had a Mum with serious health problems, who I saw three or four times a week, took shopping, and took on outings. We enjoyed each other’s company and she said I was her rock – long before Paul Burrell claimed to be one. Thank goodness bloody Facebook hadn’t been invented then, or I might be sitting here wishing I’d spent more time communicating with her instead of remembering the laughs we had together.
Please talk to me more often, or tell me when I can ring you at a time when it isn't intrusive or inconvenient. I really miss you.
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