Who is this?
Let’s just talk for a few minutes, do you have time?
I was just trying to finish this chapter, but I guess I can talk. What are you selling?
I’m not selling anything.
I better go.
Go ahead and hang up. However, it will drive you crazy about who called.
Who is it honey?
I don’t really know. It’s a young man.
How many times do I have to tell you not to answer the phone when the caller ID doesn’t give you a name of the caller?
Are you going to start that again?
Not really, but I’m going to find out who’s calling. Hello…who is this?
Hi Mary. It’s been a long time since we talked.
How do you know my name? Who is this?
Mary, hang up the extension. I’ll handle this.
No Dick, I want to know who is calling, and how they know my name. WHO is this?
Mary, Dick will know in a little while. Can I please talk with him in private?
Who the hell do you think you are? I’m going to hang up, and I want you to hang up too, Dick.
I guess it’s just us now. I heard you write novels now. How are you enjoying it?
Hang up the phone.
Mary, leave the phone alone. Please, get your hand off it.
This is ridiculous. I’m upset with you. How can you talk to a stranger and ignore what I’m asking?
I don’t see any harm in this. Besides, I would really like to know who is calling. Don’t you want to know?
Look, anyone can get our names and our number. This is just another prank call. You should let me handle it.
Would you please leave my office? Please. Please close the door on your way out?
That was a very loud door. Like I asked before, how are you enjoying writing?
She doesn’t like calls trying to sell us anything. As far as writing goes, there is a certain joy trying to create something from nothing.
I see you’ve won some awards. I’ve also read some of your stories, and they cover a wide spectrum.
I’ve been lucky and have a certain support group. Their support helps and keeps me writing.
I especially liked the one about the father and daughter at the parade.
That’s one of my favorites as well. It still brings tears every time I read it, and I wrote it.
That story is in part why I’m calling.
Well it’s published now, so if you’re looking to publish it someplace else, you will have to get permission.
No. That’s not what this call is about. I tried to call this past Sunday, but there was no answer.
Yes, I was at a seminar.
Was it a good one?
It was excellent.
What made it so great?
Oh, so this is what this call is about—a follow up to the seminar?
No, not at all…what made it so great?
It conveyed how short life is, and we don’t always have as much time as we would like.
That is interesting.
Yeah, I even called a high school teacher who made a difference in my life.
That was a long time ago, was that Mr. Kelley?
Yes, but how do you know that?
I saw the dedication in one of your novels.
Then you read that one?
Yes, but I read all of them. I liked them.
So, is that why you called?
No, but your writing helped me locate you. You haven’t hung up. What other things did you learn at the seminar?
Interesting question. I guess an answer would be that we don’t always appreciate what we have until it’s gone.
Okay then…let me ask you this question – if you could have anything back that you lost what would it be?
Let me think. Well, I’ve had some dogs that were real special and were part of the family. However, I would love to have my ‘58 Impala back.
That’s what you really would like to have back. Think about it…if your wish could be granted to have the one thing back that you lost, what would it be?
When you put it that way, it would be my mother.
That sounds better. You lost her?
She passed away exactly ten years ago.
I’m sorry for your loss, but that is an excellent choice. How does she compare to Mr. Kelley?
They’re two ends of the spectrum. My mother never got upset with me and we never had an argument, more importantly, we never said anything to each other that we would regret.
So, Mr. Kelley was different?
They were both inspirational for different reasons. My mother gave me the confidence to go after anything I believed in. She would be proud of my writing novels. Mr. Kelley was more of the ‘tough love’ fashion. He was a math teacher, but he also was the track coach. As a teacher, he was tough. He marked exams according to the rules. If you got a fifty, he gave you a fifty. He didn’t pull any punches. He wanted you to know how you were doing, and if you weren’t studying and failed an exam, he hoped his marking would bring your attention to do the work. He truly cared.
You knew all of that when you were in his class?
No, not really. I don’t think I appreciated how much effort he put into each of us, until much later. I know now that it hurt him personally when we were failing. He took it personally that it might have been his fault.
I had some people who were great teachers of tough love, but I didn’t know it at the time. What about his track coaching?
He was the best coach I ever had. Looking back on it now, I think his philosophy was—it wasn’t about winning the track meet. It was about each of us doing better than we had done previously. Beat our previous best time; throw something just a few feet further. I was his track manager one year. All that meant was that I helped set up some of the equipment. It gave me an opportunity to watch him in action. No matter who was competing, or what event they were competing in, he was there to tell them if they kept it up, they would beat their best time. He never yelled at anyone. He got upset, but that was because he knew that person could do what they thought they couldn’t. Everyone went away with a feeling of how much better they were.
Quite a man.
Yes, he was, and still is. You’ve asked me quite a few questions, let me ask you some. What have you lost that you would like back?
That is a very good question. Since you haven’t hung up on me, I’ll give you some honest answers. However, before I answer your question, I just mentioned honesty. That is something I didn’t lose. I didn’t always have it and realized after a period of time, how important that value was. It cost me dearly when I was younger.
That is important to me as well.
I know. So, to answer your question, I lost a number of family members. I lost my mother, who died when I was a teenager, and my dad for a different reason. I lost my grandparents and some others. I didn’t have any siblings and found myself very alone. It was a scary time.
Then you would like to have your mother back?
Of course I would. She wasn’t like your mother and we didn’t always see eye to eye. But, yes, I would like to have her back. However, we both know that you can’t bring back the dead, so that is not my first choice.
Who are you?
You have been courteous to me, so I will share a few more things with you and answer your question.
Dick, are you still on the phone with that person?
Yes, I am.
What is he trying to sell?
He isn’t trying to sell me anything.
He has to have a reason for calling. Just hang up.
Please honey…I’ll take care of this. I don’t see a problem.
Really. It seems like when I interrupt your writing you get annoyed. I can see you’re not going to do as I ask, so I will leave you alone.
That door does make a loud noise, doesn’t it?
You heard it?
Yes, I heard it, and I heard her asking you to hang up. Why haven’t you?
I guess I don’t feel this call is a waste of my time.
I don’t think it is either. You said honesty was one of your important values, what are some of the others?
Why should I share that with you?
I guess because I’m honestly interested. You’re proud of them, so why not share?
Yes, I am. I believe in treating others as I care to be treated. Which I guess, is why I’m telling you this. Learn from my mistakes, and I’ve made some big ones. Try to obey the rules, but accept the punishment if I break any of them.
Why that last one?
Everyone makes mistakes. For example, I exceed the speed limit, and realize if I get caught, I’ll most likely get a ticket.
How many have you gotten?
No, I never have. I always try to make sure someone is going faster than I am.
I find that hard to believe. You’ve been driving for over fifty years and never gotten a speeding ticket…are you sure?
I told you honesty is important. I never have.
Do you have any children?
I have a step-son, Dan.
One. Damon’s is eight and a great boy…very smart.
What about you?
I have two kids, Ryder who is six, and Ellie who is four.
They must be loads of fun?
Words couldn’t express just how much. I guess I never knew how important family was. However, I know now what my dad was trying to teach me. I’m trying my best to bring them up right.
It sounds like you’re on the right track. Speaking of dads…you said you called on Sunday. It was Father’s Day. Did you have a good Father’s Day?
I asked you if you had a good Father’s Day, did you?
I heard you. Yes and no. It wasn’t as good as it could have been. How was yours?
Like I said, I was at a seminar.
You lied to me.
No, I didn’t…I was at a seminar.
I asked you if you had any children and grandchildren, and you gave me your answers. Would you like to rethink your answers?
I don’t think I understand.
You have two more grandchildren. I tried to wish you a Happy Father’s Day on Sunday when I called, but Happy Father’s Day.
Yes, it’s me. It’s been twenty-five years.
Happy Father’s Day to you, Tian.
The same to you, Dad.
Thanks. Why now?
Well, last week we lost our puppy. The kids took it pretty hard. I tried to say the right words to them, but it became clear to me what was really important in life. I guess I’ve finally learned my lesson and grown up. It took having two children to realize what you were trying to do. I want to bring them up right…and I want them to know their granddad. I hope I can do as well as you did, but I’m truly sorry for how much I’ve missed. I don’t want to miss anymore time, and I don’t want them to miss it either.
Thanks for making this Father’s Day special.
So, you’re still on the phone. What’s he selling?
Would you believe—future love?
It’s my son Tian. I’m a real grandfather.