Tuesday, September 23, 2014
The last voice mail
My iPhone screen cracked yesterday. Not a big deal for the most part except for one thing that occurred to me at the Apple Store that lead to a simple question: How do I save a voice mail message?
You see, my dad was not a big technology person. One of my favorite pictures of him was taken the day he got a digital camera years ago and, in true Dad fashion, said something to the effect of, "How does this damn thing work?" and snapped an accidental selfie of his eye.
Years later, this photo still not only captures my dad, but also makes me smile. The other day I showed it to someone who just laughed outright and said, "That's beautiful."
That was totally my dad. When he died unexpectedly in January and it left a black hole in my life I also didn't expect.
See, as he got older (although I suspect he was always like this) he was a total pain in the ass. Sometimes he would go into "lonely old man mode." At night before he fell asleep, he'd be sitting alone in his home watching TV and call me randomly. If I answered and said, "What's the matter? I'm at school do I need to head down there?" he would sheepishly apologize and say he meant to call one of my siblings. One night I was at school and saw his selfie pop up on the phone and let it go to voice mail. It was just a message saying, "Oh Karlsie... sorry, I was trying to reach Puppy..." with some other somewhat unintelligible muttering.
I don't know why I never deleted it and a month later he was gone.
It right around his birthday when I went into my voice mail to delete something and notice it. The sound of his voice brought me comfort, a smile and some tears. It was his last voice mail he left for me.
The summer was a bit of a struggle with me. I kept artificially busy but there would be times when I would get hammered by a series of small events that would leave me numbly sitting on the couch trying not to get sucked into that black hole left in the fabric of my life.
A couple of weeks ago, I decided to go through with duplicating his tattoo. I had it placed above my right ankle as he was my anchor. I wanted to keep the "USN" from his WWII Navy tattoo, but chose to slide it onto the anchor itself and have his initials on the banner that originally bore his proud affiliation. I know when it's my mom's turn to let go of the grass and become part of Heaven's light that shines through the fabric of the night sky, she will float above him as the North Star to continue to guide me.
So yesterday, when a student needed to call his mom, I lent him my phone. It slipped from his hand and landed face down on the playground asphalt and cracked. I sat in the Apple Store hoping for an appointment, that never came, when it hit me. That silly voice mail is the last time I would my dad's voice and I'm just not ready to let that go. Which is when I asked, "How can I save a voice mail? I don't think I want to risk never hearing my dad's voice again." He told me of a program that might work and I was able to import that short statement of apology.
There is now an .mp4 of my dad's last vice mail on my hard drive to listen to for as long as I need.