Number Nostalgia

This week, we finally said “goodbye” to our landline phone.

I know, I know, I know. Who even has a landline in this, the Year of Our Lord 2020?

Well, we did, it’s gone now, and I have a lot of feels about it.

Drawing of an "old-timey" telephone.

The phone number in question was originally picked up by my parents shortly after they were married and relocated back to their hometown once my father got out of the Navy. This was sometime around 1967.

Doing the math, this means that this number has been in my family for over fifty years. But when I say “in my family,” I don’t just mean my parents, myself, and my daughter.

You see, before my mother passed away a few years ago, she was the major “communication hub” in the family. I’m sure every Gen-Xer with a large, extended family knows what I mean by this.

When there was a serious illness or a death in the family, someone would call my mother on this phone number to tell her. Then, my mother would call everyone else to let them know. If someone in a distant state needed to know what was going on up here in the hometown, they’d call this number, and my mother would fill them in.

Mind you, I’m not talking about family gossip here (although there was a fair bit of that), but family news. Remember, this was going on before Facebook, before Myspace, before the Internet itself was even a thing.

My mother was the social networking “site” for my family. And when you understand that my mother was the oldest of seven children, and my father is the youngest of fourteen children, you can maybe begin to grasp the scale of what I’m talking about here.

At last count, I have somewhere around one hundred first cousins, and my mother could have told you every one of their names, birthdates, and how to reach them.

So, yeah. I’m having some feelings this week.

It was definitely time to let that line and number go. Pretty much nobody but the “extended warrantee” scammers has called it since my mother passed away, our monthly bill for the line is around ninety bucks, and everyone in my family now has a smart phone with our own numbers.

All that said, it’s strangely difficult for me to grapple with this loss. It feels a little bit like a death in the family.

And, in a way, I suppose it is.

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