The longest phone call

I can remember long before the internet. The days of collect calls. If you received a collect call the operator would ask will you agree to pay the charges for this call.

Even the days of a the phone being shared on a party line. Picking up the phone you would sometimes hear a conversation already happening as the person you shared a line with was on a call.

These were the days of making a phone call to call home. Connections to loved ones. A lot of my calls home to Dad were not life changing topics covered in any way. Both of us covering off the local weather. Each other’s health. No real purpose. Just catching up. Dad might tell me about relatives doing this and that. I could even remember who was who.

Timing of calls seemed to have an impact on the subject. Early morning calls were often about some family passing , a crisis or an urgent situation.

Afternoon’s and evenings were strictly free form ..but required the pre requisite weather and health banter.

These gave me skills to predict to some degree before answering …who the caller would be and the reason for the call.

It’s interesting to note that later in life when my home and business phone were one in the same. I would get called at random times day and night from fax machines. Actually most of these were in the midnight to dawn time. It is very difficult to unsubscribe from these early spammers.

The other day a question was asked of me “What is the longest call you remember?” Immediately my conversations with my Dad when I was at Boarding school popped into my head.

There were other rants that I re called later on. I didn’t want to mention these ones as they were not very sober events and I’m not proud of those calls.

However one call I do remember that I now consider is the the call I didn’t take. It plays over and over in my head from time to time. Pops up in my thoughts at unexpected times, in dreams and nightmares even.

This phone call was in January 2008. It was 7 am and the phone wakes me and my soon to be wife Charlotte. Our wedding was set for March 15th 2008.

My phone prediction was on form. “That’s going to be brother Ian and he’s ringing to say he can’t make it to our wedding. You answer it Charlotte “

Sure enough I was right on the money.

Charlotte talked to Ian and yes this was indeed the call to say he could not make the wedding.

Three months later Ian took his own life in a Fiji motel bathroom.

For many years I have had this phone call play over. All the usual reasons of regret for not talking to Ian. Always easy in hindsight.

So this is part of my longest phone call really. It seems to bring into focus all the clues Ian left in the days / months leading up to the event.

Ian had planned this for while. He had even told me at my bother Paul’s 50th birthday party…I’m gonna do it …Ive had it.

I had heard this many times and many times.

It’s a very unique and emotional blackmail being played with such a serious thing. I had over the years become de sensitised to Ian’s attempts and announcements.

Back to the phone call I didn’t take. The replays the conversations before this date. Its one of those things really Ian had decided to hang up the phone.

I’m left on the other end unable to hear any more.

The anguish and dealing with Ian’s decision truly make the phone call I didn’t even answer to be the longest phone call.