That is the number staring back at me from my answering machine of 7+ years. From mid-2009 until yesterday afternoon, that number has been at least two. Maybe five or ten or twelve, but at least two. Always two. I kept the last two answering machine messages my dad left us before he passed away on June 26, 2009, and how I wish I had kept more. In the last two messages he doesn’t sound like his usual upbeat self because he wasn’t. But it was his voice. Weaker, softer, more tired and worn down. But it was his voice. I haven’t listened to the messages but once or twice since he left them, and I cannot honestly tell you what the subject matter was. But I had his voice. Recorded. In my house. And had I wanted to, I could have pushed the button to hear him any time. And my clumsy fingers accidentally deleted them yesterday.
We have been out of town for a long weekend and I was going through our missed calls. The kids were babbling in the kitchen while they had their afternoon snack and there was one message I could not get down fully. I had the guys name and number but I could not, after four listens, figure out where he said he was calling from. Of course this guy was the last message on the machine and I missed the two second time span I had to repeat him before the message ended, so I had to play all messages and skip through them all to get back to his. My stupid right index finger punched “delete” through all the messages instead of the “forward skip”, which is the button directly next to the delete. I realized it as I deleted the random guy’s messages and my voicemail man said “you have no more messages” and then popped that little red zero onto the screen. I swear I felt my heart stop and lurch around in my chest at that moment when I realized what I had done. I couldn’t breathe. It was no one’s fault but my own, even though I mentally cursed the placement of the delete and skip buttons. I cried a bit and called my husband to tell him what I did. He, too, was accustomed to the little red number two. Sort of checking to make sure it was still there whenever we passed my the machine in the kitchen.
I will tell you that we have a videotaped interview of my dad. My brother, sister and I decided to conduct an interview of dad before he got too sick. The year he was diagnosed and treated my sister-in-law and I were both pregnant with and gave birth to the first three of his grandsons. We wanted to remember him, we wanted our children and future children to see him, hear his jokes and voice, see his smile and listen as my brother conducted what turned into a multi-hour interview. I have not watched it. I’m not there yet, but it makes me happy that we thought to do that and that he was such a good sport about it, while knowing our reasons behind the unusual request.
I had 10, 530 days with daddy. Another number that will never get any bigger, but each of those 10, 530 days were a treasure. And the number of memories I have from those days surpasses the highest number I can count to!