Conklin: Elizabeth called today


When I answered the phone, the voice I heard was familiar, but I couldn’t place it until she said, “This is Elizabeth.” (Her name is changed for this article.)

Just hearing her voice reminded me of a time earlier when we were sitting on the sofa in her home, late one afternoon, discussing where the horizon line was in the huge painting on her north wall. This painting looked like a multicolored sky with the waves of an ocean.

At that time, the sunlight was coming in from her west window in an adjoining room. As the minutes passed, and the sun was going down, the colors in the painting seemed to change with it. This made the horizon line look like it could be on various other levels of the painting. A few months later, while at the doctor’s office, I found myself sitting across from the artist who had done the painting. Since I had the opportunity, I told him about seeing one of his paintings and wondering where the horizon line really was, because it seemed to change as the lighting in the room changed. He remembered the painting, and said that other people had mentioned the same thing to him.

When Elizabeth asked about my older daughter, I told her that recently I had read an entry in an old journal about something she had said when she was 10. She said that since her 3-month-old little sister was laughing a lot now, she was looking more like a “real human being.”

It was good to hear Elizabeth’s familiar voice with her slight accent. I thought of the day we had lunch at a deli in downtown Delaware. We sat on skinny bar stools and drank hot tea. I was mesmerized by the refinished old hardwood floors that now shined to a high gloss. This was the same floor I had walked on as a teen, when the Boston Store had occupied that same space on the northwest corner of Winter and Sandusky streets. During lunch, she and I discussed her recent trip to see her mother. And, how just two inches more of space for leg room on a plane, makes all the difference in your comfort on a long trip.

I was also reminded of her inviting me to a party at her home that November after the local election returns had come in. Back then, over-head projectors flashed the returns on the wall of the hallway on the first floor of the old court house. When I walked up North Franklin Street, on my way to her house, I noticed that many of those nice homes had their porch lights on. The neighborhood looked like a great ad for realtors to use when selling houses on that street. When I got to the party, it was evident that I may have been the only registered Republican in her houseful of guests.

As I think of it now, I am reminded of a retirement party we had both attended for my sister at the university. When I saw her, I noticed that we were dressed alike. We both had on multi-colored, horizontal-striped cardigan sweaters, with black skirts.

As we stood talking, I noticed a peaceful-looking woman, standing off to my left, who seemed to be waiting to speak to me. She introduced herself as the woman who had called me a couple of months earlier in the year, to try to convince me that having chemotherapy wouldn’t be so bad. She had been having chemo treatments herself, at that time. When she heard about my surgery, she called three or four times to try to lessen my worrying about the impending treatments I was facing.

As it turned out, I didn’t have to have any treatments at all! Miracles do happen!

The phone call I am writing about, came from my friend Elizabeth back in 2005. I had been retired for less than three weeks, when she invited me to her home to meet with some friends who get together to discuss their writings. The instructions were to write something to bring with me when I came for lunch.

This article is called “Elizabeth Called Today” because most of what I have written here, was originally what I wrote and took to her home that cold winter day. All of the women there also had written short articles with interesting story lines. One was about her grandchildren, another about something going on in the world of politics, and a third was about a flood.

My attending this little get together was one of the first steps on the ladder that has led me to be writing the articles that I am writing for The Delaware Gazette today. Mostly, because after I finished reading what I had written, one of the women in the group told me that I have a “whole shopping bag of ideas, so need to get writing.”

You just never know how one phone call can make a big difference in your life.

What I want to say here and now to Elizabeth is, “Thanks for calling.”

Kay E. Conklin is a retired Delaware County recorder who served four terms. She graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University with a degree in sociology and anthropology.

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