Wednesday, June 24, 2009

There's An App For That

Like all dutiful daughters, I called Dad on Father’s Day. Thanks to the iPhone's 3.0 update that includes the application, Celestial Calls, I was able to reach him with little effort.

He wasn’t surprised at my call because ever since he died in 1958, he’s kept his eyes on me. I know this because there are times I feel his presence. Mostly, I’m happy he’s lurking, especially if I’m being honored, thanked, or otherwise celebrated. If I'm very quiet, I can just about make out, “Way to go, Princess.

Other times, when I’m engaged in activities that he may have frowned upon when alive; i.e. lying, cheating, or taking a Gentile for a second husband, I pray (a longtime earth-to-heaven communication technique) that Dad discretely looks the other way.

On my Father's Day call, Dad picked up after a few rings and said, “So nice to hear from you, Princess.”

“Do you have an iPhone, too?” I asked, imagining he must have a similar device for our unusual chat to occur.

“No, just a regular rotary phone,” Dad said. “Nothing fancy.”

“So where did I catch you?” I asked. (When Apple brings video chat to the iPhone, these types of questions will be irrelevant.)

“The Pool Room. Where else? You remember the guys from Division Street? They’re all up here now.”

In the background, I could hear the clinking of billiard balls, the TV with Jack Brickhouse announcing the Cubs game, and shouts of goniff from male voices I assumed were at card tables.

“Sure I remember the Pool Room. Are you all still smoking?” I asked. I thought about those clouds that greeted me whenever I went to fetch Dad home for supper.

“This is Heaven,” Dad said. “We get to do what we want. And we don’t have to worry about second-hand smoke killing anyone. We’re already dead!” He laughed at his inside joke.

I heard chomping. "Are you eating, Dad?" Scorn rising in my voice.

"Corned beef on rye, coleslaw,...”

"But Dad," I said, "your diabetes, your…

He interrupted with another laugh, "Princess, enough already."

"Oh yeah, Heaven," I said. “Listen, I’ve been trying to think of a Father’s Day gift, but you understand postage would be prohibitive.”

“Princess, you don’t need to buy me anything. Your book about me was enough.”

“Dad, to be honest, it wasn’t only about you. It was about all of our lives on Division Street – you, me, Mom, Ronnie.”

“I know, I know, everybody loved it.”

“You all read it?” I asked.

“I did a book signing,” Dad said. I was certain he was rolling his eyes at my naiveté. “Remember Stuart Brent Books in Chicago?” he continued. “When it left Michigan Avenue, it opened up here. We resurrect only independent booksellers. I was quite a hit.”

“Speaking about Mom, do you ever see her?” Although my parents were still married at the time of Dad’s demise, I asked because of their frequent earthly arguments. “We run into each other now and then, but she prefers hanging out with her family and friends; and, well you know where I am.”

“Dad, tell me about your beloved sports. I can hear the Cubs game, but what about boxing, wrestling. Do you still get to enjoy those matches?”

“Are you kidding?” Dad asked. “We got a game on now; and we got Babe Ruth, Jake LaMotta, Gorgeous George. There’s a different sport every night. I can hardly keep up. Remember, Princess, this is Heaven.”

“Say, Dad, I have this feeling that you’ve been keeping an eye on my daughters, even though you never got to meet them when you were alive. Aren’t they something?”

“They take after me,” Dad said, pride likely puffing his girth further. “Their zest for life, their charm, friendliness, those big brown eyes. The talent part, I can’t take credit for. Maybe their father and you.”

I laughed. Even without video, I recalled his face clearly. He was right; there are similarities.

"And Ron, how about him publishing his own book, 'Making Happy’? What do you think about that, Dad?"

"Boy, did I get a laugh out of your brother's book! We got the galleys. It'll be a big hit here, too."

“Listen Dad, I think my battery is wearing out, so I’m going to have to say goodbye. But your birthday is coming up, so I’ll try and reach you then.”

“Sounds beautiful, Princess,” he said. "But don't worry about making calls. I'm in touch with you seven days a week."

"We say 24/7 here."

"Twenty-four seven? That one I didn't hear. I'll be honest; it's a little hard keeping up. Thank goodness for the Chicago Daily News and the other papers. Of course, we've got the top reporters working, too. Sports, politics, you name it. It takes a little longer than your computers, but quality, Princess, quality. We got it here."

"Well Dad, I'm glad you're doing okay. Give my love to everyone. When you see Mom, tell her I can call her now, too."

"She'll be happy to hear that."

My father and I said our goodbyes. I clicked off the iPhone and plugged it into its charger. Just as I thought, the battery was nearly empty. But there was enough juice for a text message coming in. "So, when am I going to hear from you?"

It was from my mother.


Anonymous said...

Sweet and clever, per usual. And talk about a window into another world. Hope I make it there myself someday; sounds grand.

But why am I suddenly hungry for a corned beef on rye?


jill lion said...

beautiful.... how sweet to spend some time with him!!!!!


Anonymous said...

Loved it. Your best ever.


Anonymous said...

That was an interesting conversation. Wouldn't it be wonderful if we could really do that.


Anonymous said...

That was really good, it brought tears to my eyes. I'll have to get one of those phones

Ron Shapiro author of MAKING HAPPY a memoir,

Sandy Price said...

A wonderful tribute to your father!

Anonymous said...

Once again, loved it. Thank you so much for sending and when you speak with him again thank him from me for giving me you and my father, he did good.

Anonymous said...

Hi Elaine, Great story. I really enjoyed it.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for clearing up that I-Phone add for me. There is an App for this and an App for that. I didn't know what the hell they were talking about.

Anonymous said...

Nice story about your dad. That sandwich picture reminded me -- wasn't there a restaurant in a basement maybe a block east of the store on Division?

Anonymous said...

I'm behind on my emails and just read this blog. Very clever. Can we call Mom and Dad one day too? (I don't have an iPhone) Honestly, if only...