My family recently had to deal with the passing of our father. It was a great celebration of life as the feelings of sadness and joy were carefully balanced in the emotional delivery at the service.
The hangover effect was strong as we dropped by my sister’s house for a quick drink after the ceremony, and 14 quick drinks later the grandchildren’s spouses drove all celebrators home as we tried to explain what an Irish Wake is.
After the day, all the newly orphaned children were given the administrative tasks one must perform to put legal closure to the passing of our father. Canceling the cable, alerting CPP, OAP, activating life insurance and many other menial tasks, that so many have done were put on lists. These tasks were welcome distractions for all in our grieving process.
There was one responsibility I had to perform that surprised me in its simplicity and in the end, its complexity. While on hold with Bell, I was overwhelmed with a feeling of closure. I was cancelling my parent’s phone, and the number 845-3113 had been the family number for fifty-five years. As I waited on hold with the Bell service line, a recorded message continually reminded me I was a valued customer at Bell. When the conversation finally ended a sense of finality hit me like a Tepperman ball gently knocking down a building. I just stared out of my kitchen window wondering where the Windex was.
This phone number had supported the family through many interesting times. It was first known as Victor 5 3113, and many years later the world forced us to add the area code to that number, if we wanted to call home to see how our parents were doing.
The seven digits had been the beneficiary of many different types of telephones during its life. It started with one rotary phone in the kitchen, that all six children and parents had to share. A decade later the family put an extension in another room, though that extra phone didn’t decrease the arguing of usage. As technology increased, we eventually succumbed to the push button craze and mother’s choice of off green colours for those phones are still stories that make us smile.
As the children grew into teenagers, the arguments for phone usage increased. Parents had to take on the role of adjudicators for time on the phone as the girls and the boys presented the importance of their calls. Upon reflection it could not have been easy for mom to decide on who was making the better case.
The Sisters pleaded to chat with their friends to debate the relative cuteness of David Cassidy vs. Donny Osmond. This vital phone conversation had to be compared to the boy’s desire to rant about the lack of defensive dedication displayed by Frank Mahovlich during his shifts with the Toronto Maple Leafs. When Mr. Mahovlich went to the Montreal Canadians, his name was never spoken in the house again.
This phone number was the only mode of communication in those days, and was paramount in facilitating important communications. Those connections spanned from the poignant to the mundane.
“Dad he proposed to me!” “Your grandfather passed away” “Come now, I think we are having our baby!” to “Can I borrow a cup of sugar?” “Uncle Jack is drunk again.” And “Christmas is at our place this year.”
The young children also used the phone to call random strangers to ask, “Is your refrigerator running?… Well you better go out and catch it.”
845-3113 was one number away from the Oakville Scout Hut’s old number, 844-3113. We received many calls a week inquiring about jamborees, meetings and other Boy Cub stuff. We became so educated about the local boys group that we could answer most of their questions before letting them know they had the wrong number.
All this history now gets filed in the “once upon a time” bin, as an unexpected sense of mourning has occurred. After I completed the cancellation, my sister scolded me, as she was still calling that number daily to hear dad’s voice on his answering machine.
The advancement of telecommunications has put this story of sappy nostalgia into its proper place. There is not a photo on anyone’s cell phone that shows my father holding his cell phone. It is not that my father was camera shy, he was technology shy, and never had any other phone number to remember except 845-3113.
People will say it is irresponsible for me to post this phone number. People will say it is okay to post this as long as you don’t give the ‘905’ area code. People will also say that nobody has to remember phone numbers anymore as they are automatically saved on your phone. The point is people say a lot of things, and I have learned to ignore people who I don’t want to listen or talk to. This is why I have call display.
So one day soon, another house in Oakville will have the catchy phone number 845-3113. I only ask that you take good care of this number. For fifty-five years it took very good care of us, and it was the only number that mattered to my family. I will now have to unmemorize this number, as I try not to forget the friendly voice of the father and mother who answered that phone any day or night that I called. In its latter years I never called this number for a reason, I just telephoned them because I knew one day that privilege of soft conversation with my parents would be taken away from me. That day came and I was less accepting to that loss than I had hoped.
Cue the Blong. Collaborating with a guy who only used numbers to list his symphonies, is not as easy at is sounds.