Busy Signal


It used to be my father’s habit to just show up at the home of one of his siblings and their families, thinking nothing of the fact that he had not phoned ahead to schedule a visit.  They were his family after all, and it should be okay to just come when it was possible to do so.  Before highway 71 was built we drove for a few hours on old route 42 to visit his sister next in age to him only to find that no one was home.

In today’s culture, visits are by appointment only, and just showing up unexpectedly is considered by some, to be rude.  I don’t mind, except that I’m usually in some grubby outfit and may or may not have any particular refreshment to offer so if someone surprises me, what you see is what you get, as they say.

Having spent yesterday afternoon with travelling friends, Kay, Diane and her cousin Janice, I was surprised to find Kay at my front door pounding loudly to get my attention.  I invited her in and asked what was up and she told me she and Diane had been trying to reach me as late as 10:00 p.m. last night and as early as 9:00 a.m. this morning until she decided to come and hunt me down.  I told her I had no phone calls but thought nothing of it since it is not unusual for me to get anything but robo calls, sometimes for days.  I went over to my landline and picked up the receiver to hear no sound.  Dead.  So I pulled out my little track phone and we called Diane.  Line busy.

I fooled around with the telephone on a stand in the kitchen until finally the dial tone returned and I tried Diane again.  Still a busy signal.  Kay and I sat down while she told me they were talking about the Strawberry Festival out in Bedford today and hadn’t we had plans to go?  Yes, we did and I had forgotten all about it and was now in the process of moving things away from the windows as I had a man coming over in the morning to wash the all the windows in the house.  We finally got Diane and she and Kay agreed where to meet at the festival while I would skip it this year, and go on about my chores.

This reminded me about the time when I had a surprise visit from my cousin, Tom.  He doesn’t live that faraway, just far enough that we don’t see each other coming and going.

Nevertheless, I was pleasantly surprised to open the door to find him standing there.  He sighed and said, “You don’t know how glad I am that you came to the door!”  He and his family had just returned from a trip to Indiana to see his elder daughter’s Master’s Degree graduation and my cousin Theresa, his sister, was calling him frantically to check up on me as she hadn’t been able to reach me for a week.

I said, “Oh, the phone’s been out of commission for eight days, so no phone, no computer and since I get so few phone calls any week, it had not occurred to me that anyone would be looking for me”.  Tom said he was prepared to break the door down as Theresa was sure I was in a heap at the bottom of the stairs in the basement.  I keep telling her, that such a fall would surely do some serious damage, but it is much more likely that I will die from the stupid stuff, like arguing with the supplemental insurance company, which I am convinced is the source of skyrocketing blood pressure not only for me, but many a frustrated senior.


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