Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Call Me!

Here’s a picture of Charley with my cousin Joanie on my Mom’s side. I don’t know how our families do it, but even though we are scattered about the country, when we get together (and this seldom happens), it’s like we haven’t been apart for more than five minutes. 

When we were kids, our cousins lived in Virginia and we lived in Louisville, KY. Our families traveled more then, so we got together more often, but still not that often.

I don’t remember the last time I saw Joanie. Thirty years? Forty? In fact, it had been so long that I’m sure I wouldn’t have known her if I passed her on the street, which is a shame because she’s so worth knowing.

I didn’t know how much we had in common until the day after the funeral when the cousins came to the house and visited. 

Alan was the first to meet Charley the day we brought him home from Texas. Alan lived in Dallas at the time and met us at the airport so he could see the new baby. I think Marion and Anne met Charley at Alan’s wedding.

If there was ever an instant connection, it was Charley and Joanie. Not only does Charley have this way of knowing who likes him, he thinks of himself as a chick-magnet. It took him all of thirty seconds to consider Joanie a chick. And why not? Look how beautiful she is. Charley has good taste.

Poor Joanie. While the rest of us were visiting on the porch, she was drafted into watching a movie in the den. Jurrasic Park? High School Musical? Grease? Who knows what they were watching, but she sat right there and watched the whole thing, beginning to end. Little did she know that while she was just being nice and spending some time with him, Charley thought he was on a date.

From then on, Joanie belonged to him. And with good reason. You see, not long after the funeral, after the trip to the movies in the den, after we all returned to our lives, after Brad, Charley, and I returned home, a box arrived in the mail.

Joanie had sent Charley a phone. It was one of those razor-type flip phones. Joanie asked me ahead of time if Charley would like to have it even though it doesn’t work. I assured her that he would, because he likes anything with a little flip action, and this phone could flip. Now that’s a person who understands people like Charley.

So, while other people were looking cool on their phones, at school, at the dentist office, at the Dr. office, and yes, even at church, Charley wasn’t the least bit left out. He had a flip phone, thank you very much. He too, could be cool. 

 And little does Joanie know that Charley has been calling. Day after day he sits on the couch, in church, in the car, wherever, and makes call after call on that phone. He calls his friend ChrisKabo, his friend Jordan, Marcy (my sister), his Dad, and anyone else he can think of.

When he just wants to connect: “Dis Shawley Pama,” he says.

When he’s hoping to score a big date, (and I have no doubt he’s calling Jordan): “You, me, out date, movie, eat, fwowers (flowers), danceen (dancing), Honeymoon…”

When he wants something: “Mom say yes.” Followed by whateveritis that he wants. A new DVD, a new music CD, or a trip to Kentucky Fried Chicken for our Wednesday night outing to get “Kickenbones.”

When he’s mad at me. “Mommy mean!” He calls to report me to whoeveritis he’s talking to about my latest infraction.

It seems everywhere we go, he flips open his phone, and says, “Call me,” then holds the phone up and says, “I got me phone. See?”

Some people blow him off, thinking this is a little weird. Why, they've had their cell phones forever. It's no longer new to them, it's standard. But to someone like Charley who's never had a phone before, it's a life changer. It puts him into the cool kid category.

Some people though, are good sports and they smile and wave at him, or shake his hand and introduce themselves. 

Funny how he doesn’t care whether the phone works or not, as long as it helps him make connections.

When Brad and I noticed how much fun he was having with his Joaniephone, we decided it might be time to get him one for his birthday that would work because, what’s more fun than a flip phone? A flip phone that works, of course. 

And what’s more fun than a flip phone that works? A flip phone for each pocket. 

Anyone who knows anything knows that only having one of whateveritis is like snubbing the other pocket. Besides, he turned twenty-two on Sept. 29th, which qualifies him for the cool factor.

Now when he leaves the house, he has two flippy phones, not one. One that makes him look cool, and another that makes him look cooler. Now how cool is that?

The other day Charley was looking at my iPad, scrolling through the pictures, and there she was, Joanie, sitting with him on our porch in Louisville. 

This Joanie who lives so far away. 

This Joanie we hadn’t seen in decades. 

This generous Joanie who sees past disabilities and into the heart of a young man who knows he's different yet wants to be like everyone else, whipping his phone out to prove once and for all that he has and will always be cool because he too, has a phone. 

This Joanie who will now and forever, be just a phone call away.

“Look, Mom!” he said, and pointed at Joanie’s photo.

“That’s Joanie,” I said. “Remember? She’s the one who sent you the razor phone.”

"Her purrty," he said, as he looked at her picture. And with that, he reached into his pocket and held the phone up to his ear. “Call me,” he said.

And you know what? I just bet she will.
Call Me!