When the days grow shorter

Isn’t it funny how you experience certain periods in your life? When you start your adult life trying to find the one love that you can be happy with, your friends are busy doing the same. Soon, you find yourself attending wedding after wedding and in no time, you are surrounded by young parents, either in your private life or at work. Topics during lunch break vary from what brand of diapers to use, to moving house, problems with contractors and the newest antics little junior has been up to. Somehow when your own kids grow up, all of that changes. When I catch up with a friend over a nice dinner in town, one of the topics we discuss is the care for our own parents. Growing old comes with its own set of difficulties, and as a son or daughter, you want your parents to have a good and long life, as we are never ready to let them go.

As I may have mentioned before, my own mother is 82 years old now and has some mobility problems. My dad passed away three years ago, and since then it’s up to my brother and me to give my mom some extra care. So you can imagine that when the phone rang in the middle of the night last week, I was out of bed in a flash. In a matter of moments I first noticed it was 4 a.m., and secondly that the number displayed wasn’t my moms. Relief, and then curiosity followed each other quickly, and as I was wide awake already I took the call. I had expected some drunk on the other side of the line, but it wasn’t.

An elderly gentleman spoke. “Is this you, Gerard? I didn’t know who to call but you. I cannot hear anything anymore. You will have to speak up loud as I can’t hear you”. All the while I was trying to cut in, to tell him that he had obviously called the wrong number. But he disn’t seem to hear me. I motioned to my husband to go back to sleep, and took the phone with me to the living room. In the meantime, the gentleman, for that is how he spoke, no dialect or anything, kept on talking and getting more and more agravated. I raised my voice as loud as I could, and told him that he called the wrong number, that there was no Gerard here. He repeated the number he had called, well, thought he called obviously, and I realized he entered one digit wrong. It dawned on him too, and he started excusing himself. “Oh I am so sorry I disturbed you in your sleep, so very sorry for waking you up”. I told him to call Gerard’s real number, and we said goodbye.

Now I’m normally someone who can fall back in bed and sleep again immediately. Not this time, I lay awake for a long time worrying about the gentleman. I was wondering if i had misjudged it, if it had been an emergency. Should I have called 911? And had he gotten a hold of Gerard? The next day I kept reliving the phone call, I couldn’t let it go. Now you might think I’m crazy, but I decided to cal the number the gentleman had recited for Gerard.

A lady picked up the phone, and after I’d given my name, I explained why I called. That she might think it a crazy question, but that I couldn’t shake the feeling that I had to know nothing serious had happened. She was surprised of course, but she understood. It turned out that the elderly gentleman was in fact 91 years old and living in a nursing home. Gerard had been his colleague and from her story, I gathered that they hadn’t kept in touch. But the phone number had stuck in the gentlemans confused mind somehow, and he had called him several times during that night. During the day, Gerard had gone to the nursing home and had changed the battery in the hearing aid. Problem solved! Still, I was glad I had called.

I’m wondering though, would you have?


  1. Yes, I would have. At the point the gentleman called your number, it then became your business. Love for your neighbor is expressed in many ways, this was just an odd unforeseen way that someone
    else’s life touched yours. I would have followed up too. 😀

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