Fresh Ideas: Wish I could call my dad

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I wish I could call my Dad.

We went up in the hills when I was little, set out tarps under the scruffy pine trees, and banged on the branches with a stick to knock down the pine cones. We gathered up all the pine nuts and put them in a giant basket for roasting and all the while, Dad told us stories about when he was a kid. When he had to ride in the back of the truck with a donkey and the donkey bit him he cried out to my Grandpa who just laughed and said, “Well, bite him back!” So he grabbed an ear and bit him back and a fight ensued, just Dad and the donkey, rumbling down that old dirt road in the back of the truck.

I wish I could call him to tell him that was one of my favorite stories ever of all time. I want him to know I miss his bear hugs and how much fun it was to laugh with him and how I loved to roll my eyes when he told awful jokes.

So I bought a Ouija board to try to give him a call. But it didn’t work when I did it by myself and everyone I know is freaked out by Ouija boards and wouldn’t help me. I still can’t bring myself to erase his number from my phone and I thought about calling but I know the number will be assigned to someone new named Billy or Laura or Jack and they’ll just say “wrong mumber” and hang up on me even though I know it’s the right number and why can’t I just talk to him. Just for a minute.

But then I heard about a place of possibility.

In 2011, the earthquake and tsunami and the meltdown of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in Japan caused insane devastation and death and terror and destruction.

When it was all over, there were so many words the living wished they’d said to the dead. Sorry-We-Went-To-Bed-Angry-Last-Night. You’re My Favorite Person Ever. You Are Everything I Never Knew I Always Wanted. I-Love-You-Love-You-Love-You. And then a gardener set up a phone in a phone booth on a hillside. The phone wasn’t connected to a thing, but people came anyway. They picked up that phone and told the dead about love and life and grief and hope. About how life really did go on and happiness could be found on the other side of agony. It was a private place to heal, words swept away on the soft breeze. The ground beneath, soft with the salty tears of thousands.

Why should our little spot of earth be any different? The hill above the cemetery is perfect for a phone booth. Overlooking the city, our deep blue sky overhead or the rumble of a storm clumping over the mountains or the wind so hard it blows down all the fences in town. Again. It would stand there with no regard for the weather, waiting for us to go and talk and release our sadness and pain and let the wind carry our words through the universe to places we won’t know until later.

No matter where they passed away, no matter where they’re buried, we could pick up that phone and tell them about the new puppy we got and how we made their favorite tacos for dinner last night and how the kids are working hard in school.

And we could know when we pass, our people could come there to talk to us. And when we’re on the other side, we can know when the breeze blows through our hair, we can hear the whispers of love from the living.

And I wouldn’t be scared of death anymore.

And I could call my Dad.

Jodie Gullickson is almost a native Nevadan. She enjoys outdoor stuff, adventuring, and drinking beer. She lives in Reno with her husband and three fur-kids.


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