On Saturday morning I dial her number. The miles between us melt away as she picks up the phone in Alvechurch.
How I love her dear voice; though it is quavery with age and slightly slowed.
7 years ago, the process of getting thoughts from the brain and turning them into speech, which we take for granted with every word we speak, became like a road after a storm, blocked by fallen trees, with sign posts uprooted and pointed in wrong directions. But we move that tree with every conversation because every word with the one on the other side is precious.
After we finish our brief conversation, she says, "I'll pass you over to Dad now."
Rob and I know that she knows that Dad has been gone for 7 years now. It's just that his name is what comes out when Mum thinks of Robert and he doesn't mind.
Rob uses Dad's childhood nickname for me and adds a dash of humour to his case of mistaken identity.
"Hello Twinkle Toes."
We chat about this and that--the latest intriguing gossip around "the close" in Alvechurch--a mini Coronation Street. I make a mental note to remember the fascinating details for some future work of fiction. Truth is indeed more strange...
I tell Rob that at last we have decided to get rid of the uneven plastered arch from our kitchen to the back room and restore it to a rectangular opening. Ever since he told me several months ago that it reminded him of a "Santa's grotto," and confirmed my own secret misgivings about it, I have longed to have it redone.
"Yes, it will look more contemporary," said Rob, adding something quite unnecessary about the Stone Age and the entrance to a cave.
These conversations and laughter knit our relationships together stitch by stitch.
I walk Molson around our tiny hamlet in the evening. The atmosphere carries moisture from the earlier summer showers and my skin grows sticky as we walk. The breeze runs playful fingers through my hair, lifting it from my neck, cooling it deliciously.
I used to listen to audio books on my Walkman as I walked, but I don't do that anymore. I attend with all of my senses and I am in constant conversation, spoken and unspoken, with my four footed companion.
I enjoy watching him and communicating with him, just as I did with Bruce, the bull terrier who became my friend in England; although he gave little indication that he was listening, so bent was he on the walk.
These "conversations" too, knit relationships together.
The ability to have conversations and relationships; such precious gifts. Can we ever take enough time for them--to attend to them--in our rush rush world?