Sunday, June 7, 2009
"ONE RINGEE DINGEE, TWO RINGEE DINGEE"
This photograph was taken with a cell phone then sent winging across the internet to me. It’s my grandmother's telephone. The number on the dial is still hers. Though if you call, she won't answer, because at ninety-nine, she lives in a nursing home. Nor would she remember that was her number. I can almost feel the warmth of my grandparent’s hands radiating from the receiver. They would have had that phone number probably since the late 1940s. It would only have had the last four digits; the prefix and then the area code would have been added later as the population increased. I remember when they had a party line. My grandmother was put out when the phone company told her that she couldn't have a party line anymore and would have to pay more money. I should probably disconnect it. Though my grandfather died sixteen years ago and then my grandmother lost her mind, to disconnect the phone and give up the number feels too final a disconnect from them. This doesn't make too much sense, because I don't visit my grandfather's grave anymore. I used to take my grandmother there and fix the grave site up every year. I would clip the shrubs on each side of the head stone, plant a couple of geraniums and smell the thyme creeping through the grass over my grandfather. Sometimes I'd lie on the grass and say things to him which amused my grandmother. But since she's been 'gone,' I don't bother anymore. I’ve heard that grave sites are rarely visited longer than three years after the burial anyway, but I still don't want to give up the phone number. My daughter, the one who wants to be an astronaut, the great-granddaughter of the phone owner, took the photograph. She regards that telephone as a Flintstonian antique and can’t get over the dial. It's as inconceivable to the budding astronaut that a phone line could be shared as the concept of the cell phone would be to my grandmother. There was a time when she might have found it fascinating that there was such a thing and beyond belief that it could include a camera. I'm not sure she could ever have grasped that additionally, the photograph wasn't on film and was sent through space to my house onto a computer. She has lived through the development of television and its integration into practically every home in the world, space travel and the invention of the computer. However, the telephone evolution would have been too much for her to handle. Communication was never her strong suit.