Tuesday, February 19, 2013

An Unexpected Phone Call

Does your mind or memory travel unexpectedly to other times and places. Without any warning I find myself walking through the streets of Baltimore, or picking up groceries in Brooklyn or sitting in our bedroom in Chapel Hill - at the same time I am taking care of business right here in my home in Chevy Chase.

 For years I have been mining my memories of personal experience when I work on new stories. I sit with photographs or a pen and pencil and make lists or day dream to recall particular events. No, this is different. It happens spontaneously and I am not calling up a particular time or event - - it floats up, real, fresh and vivid on its own and I am grateful for it.

I breathed a sigh of relief when I asked my dear childhood friend if this ever happens to her. "Oh, lord, yes!"

Last night a phone call brought on one of those unexpected experiences. I was startled when I saw the name on the ID screen on the phone - - one of Jim's classmates from Johns Hopkins Medical School - - and - they knew each other in high school and were in the same class at Fresno State College. He was calling from California to say hello and offer condolences. "Ellouise I just read the announcement about Jimmy in the Alumni journal"
Jim Schoettler - Fresno State College,  Senior Class 1952

Jimmy. No one calls Jim - Jimmy except members of his family or those who knew him in Fresno. Jack has known Jim longer than I have. I knew when he thought of Jim he would be seeing him with the same early images that I do. And, more. He added a rich fullness and added dimension to incidents Jim has told me about.

Jack's voice was familiar. Hearing him brought back memories of the two of them wearing white lab coats and walking the halls of Hopkins hospital.  Or sitting together at a banquet table at reunions.
He talked about his memories of Jim - " a special guy" and I felt Jim's warmth near-by.

So many of the people I talk to know Jim through me - not because they were associated with him on his own. Talking with Jack was very important to me - hearing his memories of Jim which are part of Jim's "own" self - and bringing back the guy I met and fell in love with. Plus Jack reminded me of the wide-eyed young girl I was when Jim called me his "itty bitty buddy" as I stood under his arm.

I was grateful for Jack's call.

This is another thing I have learned as a widow - a card or a call means more than I ever realized.

1 comment:

  1. I so enjoyed seeing Jim through Jack's eyes, Ellouise. And I love the actual picture of Jim and the word picture of you as a 'wide-eyed girl" and Jims's "itty-bitty buddy." Delightful! A memorable post. Thank you!