My OCD got sick and tired of seeing the big red “347” over the Google Voice icon on my iPhone a few days ago. Yes, that means I had 347 new messages. Well, maybe “new” isn’t a good description for them. Some of them were from 2011. Clearly, I hate voicemail.
But feeling under the weather and having nothing better to do, I decided to log into my Google Voice account on a PC and undertake the arduous task of cleaning it out. The nice thing about Voice is that it attempts to transcribe the message for you so you don’t have to actually listen to the crap. Any time I saw phrases like “trouble with my Verizon phone you sold me” or “need someone to explain my bill”, I could immediately delete. Productivity!
Then I saw a message from Norlina P. Simmons.
A message from my mom!
I played it. It was her complaining, wondering why she bothers to leave voicemail when I never check it. I guess she learned her lesson, since this was the last message from her, and it was mid-2014. After that she became a texter.
But her voice—My God it was wonderful to hear her voice again. I ceased cleaning out my voicemail and instead started searching for her messages. There were many. She’d tell me she was sorry she “missed (my) call, but (she) was in church” or that she “wanted to know if (I) was coming over for breakfast” or if I wanted to go with Dad and her “to get a sandwich”. I listened to every single one, all the way back to when I started using Google for voicemail, back in ’11.
As I was going through them all, I noticed something. I hadn’t heard the words “I love you”. Mom and I had no qualms saying this to each other—in fact we said it a lot—but I guess it wasn’t something we did much in voicemail.
I kept playing message after message. I desperately wanted to hear it. Finally, I played a message from April 18th, 2012. It ended with:
“…checked my phone and there you are! You called me. Okay, you’re okay. Love you! Bye.”
And, that’s when the waterworks started. It was the most beautiful thing I’d ever heard.
Shit. Why do I write this crap? It’s starting again.
Okay, the point of this essay isn’t to get all sappy. The point is this: That message was a somewhat random voicemail where my mom was worried about me because (I guess) we hadn’t been in touch. At the end, she told me she loved me to end the message, and probably didn’t think much about it after hanging up. And now it’s the most important recording I have, and I plan on keeping it the rest of my life.
Okay, THAT wasn’t the point either. That was what happened. THIS is the point: Tell your loved ones you love them. All the time. Every time. Any time you think of it. Because you never know if that random “I love you” will be the last one you ever have to ability to give. Or receive.
I love you too, Mom.