Beware, any of you who thought I was talking about your mother when I wrote about how my mother has made an art out of worrying. I have discovered that it is either genetic or very easily taught to your children. Oh, not me – I either didn’t get that gene or I moved out early enough to spare myself. My sister (my only sibling) – not so fortunate!
I moved out after high school; went to college and never came back. My sister lived at home after college, working and saving until she could buy her own home — at age 34. Much too long, I’m afraid. After you hear today’s story, you may agree.
The day started out calmly enough. Got the dishes done and did some writing. Read the news online. I knew it would be a quiet day because my husband had jury duty and would not be home for lunch. About 11 AM I decided to sit down and read. I turned on the little mini-fountain I just bought, which was placed next to my reading chair, and settled down for some R & R (reading and relaxation). A little mystery novel. After 5 minutes, the phone rang.
I am really not a big phone person and probably get 1-2 calls a week. Mostly, my husband from work. So it really is unusual when the phone rings. I saw my sister’s cell phone on the caller ID when I answered the phone. Wasn’t she supposed to be away for her birthday?
She was away, in Las Vegas! No, she didn’t win big. My parents were watching my brother-in-law’s store while they were away – literally, running it. They should have opened up at 10 AM. But when my sister tried to call them this morning (what? on vacation?), she couldn’t reach them. Tried the store phone, the cell phone, the home phone – no answer.
My sister is panicking! Where could they be? She wasn’t worried about the store not being open. But “what if” something terrible has happened to them and they can’t get to the phone? She was actually hyperventilating on the phone! My brother-in-law is no help. He very excitable and loud when he’s upset.
My sister was playing the “what if” game as well as my mother: What if someone broke into their house and hurt them? What if they had a car accident? What if they had gotten really sick from something and couldn’t get to the phone? What if someone came into the store and hurt them?
Since my sister was playing this game long distance, I didn’t get into reality with her. The fact: they knew she was away and would call me if they had a problem. The fact: the crime rate in their home town is 1 murder every ten plus years. The fact: both of them getting sick so fast that one of them could not get to a phone to call me was highly improbable. I just told her I’d drive over to their house to see if they were there to start with and we’d take it from there.
It takes maybe 10 minutes to get from my house to my mother’s house. In that drive, I thought about all the things that could be wrong – other than those my sister had so creatively suggested.
- Maybe their van broke down on the back road they take to get to the store. Their van is at least 10 years old and gets about 5 miles to the gallon (but she likes it). Maybe they ran out of gas.
- Maybe my mother forgot to charge up the cell phone.
- Maybe the phone service was down at the house or the store. I’ve had that happen before – you hear it ringing if you’ve made the call but it never really rings at the other end.
- Maybe my usually early for everything mother was running late one of the few times in her life.
- Maybe they didn’t turn on the cell phone while they were traveling.
By the time I got to the house and discovered that they were not home and there was no major crime scene to be worked, I had a better list going than my sister. So I called Las Vegas and told her the good news. I was about to tell her I would follow the route they would take to get to the store next, when my brother-in-law got very excited and loud.
He was on his cell phone, still trying to reach my mother on her cell phone and she had finally picked up. I heard something about a “medical emergency” and told my sister to call me back after she had talked to my mother. I knew my brother-in-law, whose first language is not English, would probably not get the details correct.
About 5 minutes later, my sister called back. Apparently my mother hadn’t felt quite right that morning and had decided to visit the doctor before going to the store. She was still there but everything was fine. My sister was still breathless and kept breaking to take a deep breath and mutter “Oh, God” under her breath. I was more worried about her than my mother, frankly.
My mother called me this afternoon. They were at the store. She was okay. Got some medication and had some tests done. She has an appointment in a week to get the results of the tests. I figured if the doctor had sent her home and not to a hospital, it wasn’t life threatening. And if the test results could wait a week, I didn’t need to worry yet. I am a true believer in worrying only about things that you know are fact – and even those I quickly turn over to God, who has much broader shoulders than I do.
I told the my mother the story of my sister’s call and panic. I said to my mother, “She’s as bad as you are when it comes to this worrying stuff!”
My mother’s reply? “No, better.” Well, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, does it?
God bless my sister. I hope she enjoys the rest of her vacation.