Life is funny.
The phone rang at 5:59 p.m. yesterday. It was him.
I was knee-deep in the Trifecta of Doom, editing three particularly intense newspapers at once. One of those nights when you don’t drink much water because you know you won’t have a chance all night to pee. But still I picked up.
Hellllloooo, Gar, he said. A little less pep than the old days, but he sounded good. Bouncing back from a hip operation a couple of weeks ago, he was calling from the rehab joint just to say hello. It was good to hear his voice.
He said he was feeling better, but the hip still bugged him. He hasn’t been walking much but was optimistic. I told him he should consider falling down less. He promised to take it under advisement. I knew he wouldn’t.
I told him about Mo’s new job. We chatted about nothing as I glanced nervously at the seconds ticking by on the clock. But I guess he needed a friendly voice, and having found none, turned to me instead. It was a good talk. I told him to get the heck better and I’d see him soon. He said see you later. I went back to editing.
The phone rang again at 1:08 a.m. today. It was him again. Only this time it wasn’t. Someone else was calling from his phone.
He had just died. Heart attack. Pulmonary embolism or maybe his weary heart just finally gave up or he knew in his heart the Rangers weren’t going to make it to the playoffs this year anyhow so really what’s the point. He was fine at 10 p.m. when the nurse checked on him, and then at midnight he was gone.
And now I’m sitting here with his words haunting me. It was so normal, so routine. So “this isn’t the last time I’m ever going to talk with him say something profound tell him you love him you moron.”
Downside: We didn’t talk nearly long enough. I’m sorry, Dad. I didn’t know.
Upside: I made all three deadlines. Life is all about priorities.
Life is funny …