Hearing from loved ones has healing power

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I'm waiting for a phone call. If it comes while I'm writing this, I will instantly stop writing, drop my laptop like a flaming Tater Tot, and run to get the phone.

Some people might take that personally, getting dropped for a phone call. It's almost like being put on hold by someone who hears a "call waiting" beep and says to you, "Hold on, I'll be right back."

OK, so it's exactly like that. The difference is the importance of the caller. I wouldn't put you on hold for just anybody.

Randy is my grandson. He's almost 3 years old. When he calls, I answer. Unless I'm in the shower, as I was this morning, when he left this message:

"Hi, Nana, I ready to take your order now. Call me back."

Randy likes to play "restaurant server." He has a stack of photos of various dishes from which he will let you choose (unless you order over the phone, in which case, you have to guess what's available). Tell him what you want and he'll fill a plate with your choices and serve it up.

It's fun. And the prices are really quite reasonable.

But when I called him back, his mom said he was taking a shower and would call me later.

So I'm waiting. Speaking of phone calls, I've gotten a lot of them lately. Lucky me.

I recently had some dental surgery that caused my face to swell up like the Goodyear blimp and forced me to spend quality time with my new best friends: pain pills and ice packs.

The great thing about it is that my children and their others -- bless them one and all -- have been calling and texting and emailing to check on me.

I know what you're thinking. You're right. Some people will do anything to get attention.

My grandmother was notorious for her creative ways of getting her 10 children and 20-some grandchildren to call.

Once, she actually faked a heart attack to get the family together. I am not making this up. I flew from California to North Carolina, fearing I might not make it in time to say goodbye to her. Then I sat by her hospital bed and listened to her belly laugh as she confessed to me what she had done.

"I'd rather you all come see me while I'm alive," she said, "than to have you stand around at my funeral eating fried chicken and trying to think of something nice to say about me."

She liked to make a point. I didn't understand it then. But it makes sense to me now. What she meant to say was ...

Wait. There's the phone. Hold on, I'll be right back.

"Hello, my darling!" I say.

"Hi, Nana. I ready to take your order now."

"Great!" I say. "I would like a salad and some kind of pasta. What kind do you have?"

I hear him shuffling through the food pictures.

"We have ... um ... bread."

"OK," I say, "bread is good. For dessert I want cupcakes."

"We don't have cupcakes, Nana. We have ... strawberries and ... strawberries."

"I love strawberries!"

"OK," he says. "Are you through talking now?"

This means, "Will that be all for you this evening?"

"Yes," I say, "thank you."

"You welcome, Nana. I see you later. I love you."

Then he puts down the phone.

OK, I'm back. Where was I? Yes, I remember. What my grandmother knew then, and went to great lengths to explain, is something I am learning:

When you are sick or in pain or just plain lonely, there is no better medicine than a visit or phone call (or email or text) from someone that you love. Nothing else comes close. Not even pain pills and ice packs.

Maybe I should have dental surgery every week?


Sharon Randall is a columnist for Scripps Howard News Service (www.sharonrandall.com).


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