That call in the middle of the day…

imageYesterday at work my personal cellphone rang just before lunch and when I saw my wife’s parents’ number on the screen I suffered a moment of slight panic.

Why were my mother- and father-in-law calling from India so late at night? What time is it there? What time is it here?

My heart rate returned to normal soon after hearing my father-in-law’s calm voice and his first words, “Everything is alright.” He was calling about a non-urgent business issue and just happened to be doing it at 11:00 pm local time, in Pune.

We tend to see middle-of-the-night phone calls as the scary ones because they’re more likely to bring news of family tragedies or emergencies. For those of us with family in India, those late night calls are received mid-day.

But in the age when texting, messaging, and e-mailing are by far the most common means of communication, I have to admit that any unexpected phone call from a loved one these days makes me somewhat nervous.

In September I wrote about the very sudden and unexpected death of my 57-year-old cousin Bob. That was news I heard from my mom when she called me at work in the middle of the day. When I answered that day I was in a lighthearted mood and even jokingly said something to her about unexpected phone calls making me nervous. She ignored my comment and calmly and directly told me the news about my cousin.

My grandparents’ generation never forgot the first news of the Pearl Harbor attack. For my parents’ generation it was where they were when they heard about John F. Kennedy’s assassination. More recently it was the happenings of September 11, 2001 that burned into our memory. On a much more personal level, we all have – or will have – those time-stopping phone calls that bring life-changing news.

In the meantime, we appreciate the daily, routine communications with our loved ones. And we give thanks for the opportunity to hear a beloved voice from the other side of the world – anytime, day or night.


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