I'm the kind of person who skips to the conversation when reading a book.
That doesn’t guarantee that I will answer with a smile in my voice if you wake me from a sound sleep. But I still mean it.
Last night I got one of those calls.
I had gone to bed rather early, shortly after 9 PM because I knew I had to get up around 4:15 the next morning. I think it was 10:30-ish when the phone woke me from a sound sleep. It was Deirdre.
“Mom, I need to talk with Dad.”
“Is everything okay?” I asked, fumbling around in bed, trying to figure out what was going on. Deirdre had left earlier in the day to visit one friend at a college about an hour west and then was planning to drive to visit another friend at a college about an hour north.
“It’s a car thing,” she said. “I need Dad.”
“Are you okay?” I asked. My sleepy brain was still trying to put all the pieces together into something that made sense.
“Mom,” she said sharply, “I need Dad.”
Bobby had rolled over and was reaching out for the phone. I handed it to him and he took it out into the hallway to talk so I could go back to sleep. Yeah, right.
“Wait, what?” he said loudly. His telephone voice is the same as his stadium voice. He had pulled the door shut but I could still hear him like he was in the same room. “It’s doing what?” I needed to tell him to talk quieter or just go downstairs. He was going to wake everybody in the whole house. “Did you try — What?” I went out into the hall, but he was saying, “Okay… Okay… Call me if you need anything… Okay. Bye.”
“Is everything okay?” I asked as we went back into our room.
“Yeah, I guess. She was having car trouble or something, but she said it’s fine now.” He lay down to go back to sleep, but I was wide awake now.
“What did she say?” I asked, hoping for more information.
“I don’t know,” he answered sleepily. I wondered that he could go back to sleep so easily.
I lay there looking at the ceiling and shadows in our room. I tried to figure out what could possibly be happening with Deirdre. For the longest time, my mind worked through possibilities and I tried to pray. It obviously wasn’t anything too terrible or Bobby would have said something. But still. I was so wide awake right now.
I must have eventually drifted off to sleep, because the next thing I knew the phone was ringing again and it was 12:30.
“Mom, I’m sorry. I’m sorry.” It was Deirdre. She sounded so upset.
“What’s wrong, honey?” I was instantly awake this time.
“Something’s not right with the car and I don’t know what to do,” she said, her voice cracking as she spoke.
“Are you all right?” I asked. I figured that we could get a new car, but we could never get a new Deirdre.
“I’m fine, but the car is acting really strange. I can’t get it to go.”
“Where are you?”
She gave me her location — the city, the street. It was an hour away.
Bobby was already up and getting dressed. “I’ll go get her,” he said.
“Dad is on his way,” I told her.
“No, no, no,” she said. “I don’t want to bother you.”
“This is what parents do,” I told her. “It’s okay. I want you to call me when you need help. Anytime. I mean it.”
I’ve repeated that multiple times today as well. The car problem turned out to be minor. They got home, with both cars, around 3 AM. She feels terrible for waking us up thought.
And I just got another text from her. It says, “Sorry for waking you up for nothing. I was just scared.”
I guess I’ll tell her again. Call me. Anytime. I mean it.
If you can’t turn to your mother when you’re scared, who can you turn to?