Yesterday, my cell phone starting ringing while I was at work. I had a stack of file folders in my hand, and in the process of reaching to pull my phone out of its pocket in my bag I almost tossed the across the office. I opened the phone without looking, as it was getting close to the 4th ring, after which the caller would be sent into voicemail exile.
“Marisa? Marisa? Is that you? This is Aunt Anne.”
“Hi Aunt Anne! Is everything alright?”
“Listen honey, the TV you gave me is broken and I didn’t know who else to call. The screen has gone blank, and while I can still hear the voices, I can’t see anything. I’m so sorry to bother you, but if you could tell me where did you got it, maybe I could take it to them to get fixed.”
Aunt Anne is 86 and is a combination of utter sharpness and total lack of problem solving skills. She suffers from a lifelong lack of self-esteem which causes her to apologize for bothering me between every third word.
I bought her TV on sale at Walmart (I realize the error of my ways, but it is a really nice set, and was under $100. I feel the universe will forgive me for shopping at Walmart, when the result of it so clearly made her happy. At least until the damn thing stopped working). Aunt Anne doesn’t understand Walmart or the culture of disposability that we live in these days. Her last TV lasted 35 years, I’m not sure how to explain it to her that the new one may have blown a tube in 6 months. I make arrangements to drive out to her house in New Town Square on Wednesday after work and see if I can’t figure out what the problem is.
Sitting at work this morning, Aunt Anne called again.
“Marisa, I don’t understand. Don’t you have a job? I keep calling your home line, and I reach you. Have you been fired? Do you need money?”
“Hi Aunt Anne. No, I still have a job. My home phone forwards to my cell phone if I don’t answer it after a couple of rings.”
She is silent for a moment, pondering the enormity of the power of technology these days. I can almost see her, shaking her head to let this new knowledge sift like ashes to the far recesses of her mind.
“Well, honey, I’m really sorry to have bothered you, but I have to tell you, I feel like an ass. The TV is working fine today. I don’t understand it. So you don’t have to come out tomorrow night.”
“Aunt Anne, it’s really okay. You are allowed to call me anytime you want. If the TV goes weird again, you can call me, and I’ll come out and try to fix it.”
We chatted for a while longer, until she was done being on the phone. She cut me off with a short, “Okay honey, I love you. Bye.”
So, the TV is fine (think it must have had something to do with her reception). I’m not going out there Wednesday night, but I have got to find a time to visit her soon, as I think her confusion is getting worse. In her own words (which she repeats to me every time I see her), “Getting old is for the birds. Don’t do it.”