My mom calls me fairly often, now that she has a cell phone that works in her house. She used to just call me when she was out walking the dog or on her lunch break. That was because her cell phone didn’t work inside her house, an affliction I share when I go home to visit. The problem, as she tells me, is that my dad’s house lays in a valley, and it’s hard for the cell phone towers to reach down into it.
But Verizon works there now. Damn Sprint anyhow.
Tonight she called me just to chat, and to ask me whether I wanted some old sheets of hers. My dad finally broke down and decided to renovate their 1960s colonial, which hasn’t been done. Ever. My dad is only the second owner of that house, and so far the only remodeling that has been done was to redo the kitchen in 1986. Also we got new carpet in the front hallway, stairs, and upper hallway before we moved to Illinois, I do believe.
See, when we moved to Illinois, my dad decided to keep the house instead of selling it because he knew we would most likely be back. He rented it out to a couple of Navy families so he could afford two mortgage payments. Sure enough, we were back in Virginia in 1994, just five years after moving away. That was one of my father’s smartest moves, seeing as his mortgage payment is a fraction of what his neighbors pay. He bought the house in 1984 at 1984 prices. There is no way he could live where he does in the house he lives in if we had had to buy it back in 1994.
Northern Virginia is not a cheap place in which to live, especially considering how close he lives to DC.
They are doing some mad work to this house now. They’ve already built a retaining wall to keep the house from sliding down the ravine on which the house sits, which also gave them a lovely patio in the backside of the house. I love their new patio. It wraps around the house, from the carport on the one side of the house all the way to where it meets up with the deck on the other side. It’s much better than the scary hill we had before. I used to lose my balls down that hill. I’d be out playing “soccer” with my friends in the cul-de-sac, and if the ball headed toward the left side of the house, we didn’t even bother chasing it. There was no way we could catch that ball before it careened down the hill into the ravine.
I also lost tennis balls and racquetballs by the dozen in the storm drain in front of our house, but that’s another matter.
My dad’s now converting the carport into a garage, as well as adding a porch to the front of the house. The porch requires that the bay window in the living room be eliminated as well, so they’ll have a flat picture window instead.
A lot of work is being done to this house.
This leads to my mom calling me every couple of days to ask me if it’s okay if she gets rid of this, or if she can send me that, or if I want this other thing, and what to do with it if I don’t want it. First it was some plants I didn’t even know I still had there, and then it was the sheets.
Unfortunately she no longer has the tulip sheets. Geez, how I loved the tulip sheets!! She had at least one pair for every bed in the house, and then one year she made curtains for my room out of tulip sheets that had gotten a bit worn in the middle. They were simply white sheets with red and yellow and blue stylized tulip blooms on green stems, nothing fancy. But I loved them. She even had a very clever way of differentiating which sheets went on which bed — she sewed little bits of fabric onto the corners of all the sheets to color-code them. Yellow for my twin bed, blue for my sister’s full bed, and red for my parents’ queen-sized bed. It made it easy to keep the right set of sheets together, especially as she taught us to store one complete set in one of its pillowcases when we folded it to keep it all together.
I wouldn’t mind having a set of my own tulip sheets now. They were so so bright and cheery.
Finally my mom told me my dad had come downstairs to watch the news with her (a nightly ritual), so she had to go. All of a sudden, I needed to talk to my dad. I didn’t care what I said to him; I just needed to hear his voice.
My dad has a very soothing voice. He went to broadcasting school and has even done some voiceover work. He has a really lovely voice, although he always disagrees when you tell him so. He would prefer to have a lower voice, though I find his baritone much more calming than a bass would be.
Plus that’s my dad. I would love his voice whether it were soothing or grating. It’s the voice I’ve heard my entire life, a voice that has been one of the few constants in my nomadic childhood.
And then I realized. I realized that I am grown, and that one day my dad will be gone. And one day I won’t be able to pick up the phone and hear his voice. Hopefully it won’t be for many, many more years yet (my dad is not quite 62, still fairly young), but it happens to us all.
I just hope I can carry his voice in my heart once he’s gone.