Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Voice Memories

Here I am. Staring at this blank screen for the first time in over a year and yes, it’s a little frightening. I’m afraid I might just purge a bunch of junk and feelings that will spill out in letters on the page. Let’s hope not.

On Sunday my cell phone stopped working. Just so you know, I don’t have a smart phone or anything fancy like that. I have one of those phones with the keyboard that slides out—it’s actually really handy for texting. I’ve been in need of an upgrade, to the same phone, but one with a keyboard where the spacebar doesn’t get stuck. My words slur together when I send messages to friends…’I’m not drunk, my spacebar just doesn’t work anymore!’ But I’ve been reluctant to replace my phone because I have important messages saved on my voicemail and supposedly, the messages are lost during an upgrade.

So like I said, my phone stopped working, and then I realized I’d have to make that dreaded trip to Verizon where you inevitably wait forever for them to do nothing. Isabella and I went to Verizon and the guy helping me was very nice but said he couldn’t actually help me because my name isn’t on the account, so we tried to contact Walter (who doesn’t answer his phone or respond to text messages). Well, after a long string of annoyances he reactivated my phone and it was able to make calls again except for one little thing, my phone was now having an identity crisis and thought it was Walter’s phone. So back to the Verizon store, where the nice guy helping me said he couldn’t actually help me anymore because we still hadn’t been able to get in touch with Walter.

I headed home. Annoyed and hungry—a really bad combination for me.

Finally I got in touch with Walter who shared that he did call Verizon and found out that someone had hacked our account and tried to purchase iPhones. I mean, I actually do want an iPhone, but not like that. I need to point out here that the company we pay for our phone service, did not contact us to let us know that our phones had been compromised. Nice one, Verizon. Thank you for being helpful.

About an hour later Walter came home early because he was getting ready to go out of town for work and the phone issue was all-consuming by that point. It sounds ridiculous, doesn't it? To be so dependent on a working cell phone. But anyway, all of our phones needed to be reactivated over again since my phone was still in the middle of an identity crisis.

Walter said gently, “I just need to prepare you, and let you know that you may have lost all of your voicemails.”

For a moment I looked stunned and then the tears began and then the sobs, and then Walter was hugging me because he knows how much those voicemails mean to me.

They are the voices of my grandmas telling me they love me. It is the voice of the last time my grandpa called to sing Happy Birthday before he died. It is Walter wishing me a good day and telling me he loves me and looks forward to seeing me after work. It is my grandma acknowledging how much love I’ve put into raising my children and wishing me a Happy Mother’s Day. It is memories wrapped into the sound and cadence of people I love and have lost.

I couldn’t bear the loss of those memories. Isaac told me to ‘stop crying’ because he’d never seen me cry like that I think it scared him a little. Walter assured me we would try to get the messages back.

After our phones were reactivated and all identity was restored, we tried to check voicemail but it didn’t recognize the old password. Walter re-set the password on his phone as a test to see if his messages were still there, but we waited on my phone thinking that if it didn’t work maybe they would have a way to recover the messages at the Verizon store.

Surprisingly, even with the password change and deactivation and reactivation of his phone, his voicemail was saved, so I tentatively agreed to have him re-set my voicemail.

The first message I heard after punching in the new password was my grandma and grandpa in chorus singing, Happy Birthday to you! Relief washed over me in a new stream of tears. The voices weren’t lost and I quickly backed up the voicemails on my iPod, and for the first time since my grandpa died, I listened to him over and over again.