The Proximity Detector
For the last year, my smart phone has a dumb, if not annoying, malfunction.
The malfunctioning part darkens the phone while the phone is next to my ear
But doesn’t lighten it when I pull it away to hang up, access the speaker, or use the keypad.
The “proximity detector” is broken.
I didn’t even know that was thing when I started researching this problem,
And found that my particular brand seemed prone to this malfunction.
Oh well, I thought,
as I researched work arounds.
I can’t hang up, so one workaround was to leave messages,
which I almost always have to do, that tells people:
“Hi, long message, but the proximity detector on my phone is broken
so there is probably going to be a bit of silence on the end of this message.
I’ll tell you when I’m officially done leaving the message,
so you don’t have listen to a lot of silence.”
And then go on with the actual message.
Eventually, the voice mail will figure out that I’m not talking and disconnect.
For the last year, my father has been in hospice.
A cancer survivor he’s stopped all the unpleasant treatments
And is just waiting for his prostate cancer to do its thing,
which is basically kill him.
Still lucid we’d talk weekly and brighten each others’ weeks.
As the pandemic started he took a turn for worse
And got sick a bit more, started experiencing a lot more pain
And just moved into the next phase
where his body would just slowly die.
A waiting game, I’ve traded text messages and emails with my mom and siblings,
And left messages on his phone.
But today, I called and
seeing how he was supposed to wake up to take some pills,
got to talk to him a bit.
He was not very lucid and slurred his words a bit,
and I could tell he was really tired.
So I lied,
“I’m ready if you’re ready.”
I promised I’d check in with Mom,
then just said,
But he was too out of it to hang up,
and I couldn’t,
so the line stayed open as I put the phone in my pocket and walked on.
Finally my sister picked up and asked if I was there,
I was and explained my phone and how the better part of the last year
My father and I have been unable to hang up,
And even now with his death just days away,
We still just couldn’t hang up,
Just couldn’t say,
April 22, 2020