I sneak away from the noise and conversation of the crowded dining room table covered with now-empty, but used dessert plates, cut pies, and coffee cups. I walk to the far end of the kitchen and stand looking out at the night. I call my mom on my cell phone. Her voice is upbeat when she answers the phone, so I know she had a good day. Relief washes over me that my two sisters were able to make the Thanksgiving dinner into a celebratory meal. When I committed to having my husband’s mother and sister over to our house for Thanksgiving, I wasn’t sure how things were going to work out for Mom and Dad. An image of them sitting alone at their kitchen table haunted me. But it all worked out.
After talking for a few minutes with Mom about the day, I tell her I can’t talk long because company waited in the dining room. “Can I talk to Dad?” I ask. Mom puts down the phone in the kitchen and walks into the living room to hand Dad the cordless phone in there. I can hear muted conversation in the background, but I don’t know whether my dad actually has the phone and I should be talking to him or not.
I hear my mom say, “Don’t push any of the buttons.” I know my dad must have the phone, so I start talking.
“Happy Thanksgiving, Dad.” I hear nothing in reply, but then I don’t expect to. I’m not even entirely sure if he’s got the phone up to his ear.
“Are you there, Dad?” I ask.
“Um hum,” he says.
“Did you have a good Thanksgiving dinner?” I ask. I don’t wait very long for a response.
My mom has gotten back on the phone in the kitchen, but she can’t see Dad from where she is, so she doesn’t know any more than I do about the status of the phone in Dad’s hands.
I talk on. A one-way conversation.
“We just finished dessert. Anna made us four beautiful pies. Matt and Joe came home too, with their girlfriends. Mark’s mom, Karen, Alayne and Toby are here too.”
I don’t have a lot more to say, and I hear sounds of chairs being pushed out and people moving around in our dining room that signals family members getting ready to leave.
“Well, I just wanted to say Happy Thanksgiving,” I say. “I’m going to hang up now.”
I wait a moment.
“Good-bye,” I say.
I’m not sure whether to hang up, or wait, or what to do. My sister Carol gets on the phone. She must have been standing by my dad. “He wants to tell you good-bye,” she says.
“Good-bye, Dad,” I say again.
I wait, looking outside at the darkness.
“Why don’t you just wave to me, Dad,” I say after what seems like several minutes but in reality could only have been a number of seconds.
I hear Carol’s light laughter at a little distance over the phone, “He’s waving to you,” she says.
“I love you, Daddy,” I say. “Good-bye. I’m going to hang up now.”
And I do.