Long before my daughter got leukemia and died, I had set ringtones on my first cell phone. Marika’s tone was like the sound of fairies dancing in a waterfall. My son’s was a tango. Their father’s was the first four apocalyptic notes of Beethoven’s Fifth. Through the years in and out of hospitals, and after a series of cell phone replacements, I lost the programmed sounds and never bothered to go beyond the default settings. But two weeks ago, with a fresh attitude towards technology and life in general, I went about assigning various tunes to my friends who supported me through tough times. Then, finally getting around to my family members, I discovered the bottom of the list of free options. My son got the barking dog. My sister’s ringtone became the duck.
During the next days, as friends called, I slowly started to identify their sounds and learn who to expect. If I heard a minuet it was Celia. Frenetic ascending notes meant calls from Barb or Liz.
Then one day last week, as I was writing at the table overlooking the pond, I heard a duck. It seemed to get louder and closer. When it sounded like it was going to fly inside and land on the table, my dog and I rushed to the window to watch it descend. By the time I realized it was my sister phoning me I missed the call completely. But I got a good laugh.
Later that evening I heard a strange dog barking in my bedroom. It took only a few seconds to figure out that my son must be calling. I dashed to find the phone and collided with my dog who was in hot pursuit of the canine intruder. As I got close to the phone I saw the cat crash into the bedroom door in his mad scramble to escape. He then flew between my legs, followed by my dog. I caught the phone before it stopped barking but was laughing so much I could hardly talk.
For a short while I considered changing the ringtones. What chaos would ensue if my son called while I was in the library or at the doctor’s? What if my sister, the duck, should phone when I’m at Taughannock Farms Inn dining on roast duck breast? But instead I combed the list of sounds and wondered who I could give “crickets” or the “tweet” to.
These days I need to find laughter wherever I can.