Having a child who lives in
However, today I realized why I always think of my Great-Aunt (or maybe that’s Great-Great-Aunt) Clementine every time I call my daughter.
Clemmie, as she was called, was married to Uncle George, who had charged up a hill with Teddy Roosevelt in the Spanish-American (so-called) War.. Clemmie brewed up her week’s worth of coffee all at once and stored it in jars under the sink. Her great romance, before Uncle George, had been at the
When she went missing from time to time, everybody raced to the bus station and pulled her off the bus St. Louis-bound. Eventually, long after Uncle George joined Teddy Roosevelt, Aunt Clemmie passed on to that great World’s Fair in the sky.
She was a home-loving gal, however, and one of the great-nieces had a bit of a gift for psychic things. One of the most exciting events I remember from my childhood was when the telephone call would came, “Get over here quick. Clemmie’s trying to come through!” Then we all got to sit around in a circle in a darkened room and try to decipher the bits of disconnected babble that was Clemmie trying to find out what was going on , or to tell us something important about the afterlife. We never got the message clearly enough to find out. There would be some noises, “H-h-h-huh...” “Hello, Aunt Clemmie, is that you? We’ve got a bad connection. Try again.”
We would watch the dancing balls of light and brush bits of ectoplasm off our faces and shout back and forth to no avail for a couple of hours, asking questions about the afterlife and getting busts of stutter and babble in return.
This would go on some time until we gave up, coffee cake and mugs of cocoa came out and we all went home feeling we’d been in touch with something stately and grave.
Oh, right, that’s why I remember Clemmie when I Skype with my daughter. “Mu-mu-mu-mom, is that yyyyyyyyyoooooooooouuuuuuuuuu? Can you hu-hear-gobble-squawk-fadeout?” And I reply, “We have a bad connection. Can you hear me?” “Yes, I can hear you now. Can you hear me?” Sort of like the early days of CB radio. Remember that? “X calling Y. Are you receiving me, Y?” I remember my father going on like that all evening. My Skype call again.
But it’s a blessing. A good part of the time, it works. No matter how happy we are to talk, the conversation is sweetened by the fact that I’m not paying by the minute. Sometimes, there are extra-special glitches, like last night, when I realized I was saying this: “Aunt Clemmie? Is that you? Get off the line! I’m trying to talk to my daughter.” When this happens, we hang up and try again and fifty percent of the time, it works!