My parents are the quintessential Jewish parents, transplants from Brooklyn all the way to… wait for it… Long Island.
When I was growing up on Lawnguyland in the, dare I say it, 1960s and 70s, all I really knew about Manhattan or as the locals call it, “The City” was that Dad would put on a suit, leave the house at the crack of dawn and ride the train into work. At the end of the day he would come home tired from the long day at work and the long commute. Other than that, the city was a place where occasionally we would see a Broadway show, or one of our favorites, the Alvin Ailey dancers.
I’m the baby of the family. The youngest of three girls. Mom stayed home until I was about 9, when she went back to work, part time.
Mom’s a worrier. An all time, worry about all things worrier. But, she especially worries about my sisters and me. Nothing changed when we grew into adults. In fact, I don’t think she really noticed.
I was a radio, TV and film major in college. When I graduated I did a short stint in Boston, where I worked at a local music video station. Mom called every day. That’s right, I said every day. Don’t get me wrong. Whenever anything happened I would call her. I once banged my head on the corner of a fuse box at work and needed stitches. Before I got in the car with my colleague to go to the hospital, I called Mom.
I moved to LA to pursue my dream. Mom still called long distance every day. In those days, you had to wait till 8pm when the rates went down. And I still called her. There was the time I was living in a studio apartment in Sherman Oaks, CA and I couldn’t find my checkbook. Yes, you heard right, I called my mom on Long Island and asked her to help me find my checkbook. She said, “Did you look under the couch?” and I kid you not, that’s where it was!
Maybe that was why she worried about me so much. But the time she called the police on me was a bit much. I was living in Hermosa Beach, CA in the ‘90s before cell phones. My roommate didn’t pay the phone bill and the phone was cut off. I knew where my checkbook was, I didn’t need stitches so no reason to call home. I didn’t call for five days. I was in my bedroom when I head a very loud, very self-assured knock at the door. More like a pounding than a knock. It scared the pants off me. I opened the door, how could I not, and two very tall, very uniformed police officers were there. “Dana Klosner?” One of them belted out. “Yes” I cowered. “Call you mother!!” He said. “What?” I quivered. “She hasn’t heard from you in days and she’s worried!! Call your mother!” “Okay,” I said, still not really sure what was going on. “Have a nice day,” the other one said. And off they went. I went downstairs to a payphone to call collect. After all, I didn’t want to go to jail.
Then there was the time I was in an airport coming home from a long trip, I don’t remember any of the details, I don’t remember where I was coming from, I just know I was catching a connecting plane back to NY. My plane was cancelled and I was trying to figure out how to find a hotel, when I hear an announcement. “Dana Klosner pick up a yellow courtesy phone,” all I could think was “No, it can’t be.” I go to a counter and I find a yellow phone. I knew it had to be. I pick up the phone and I said, “Mom?” And she said. “I had to let you know, there’s a big storm here and your plane has been cancelled!” She always knows how to track me down!!
When I drove across country from NY to LA, Mom wouldn’t let me go alone and she made my older sister go with me. It was a great trip, but you guessed it, every night, from every hotel we called mom. After all it was both of us on that trip.
I was living in LA for a few years when I went up to San Francisco to meet a friend and we did a crazy road trip and drove up and back to Seattle in one weekend. And, you know what I’m gonna say, every night I called mom. My friend, who grew up as a foster child, couldn’t believe I would do that, or that she would even want me to. “I have to,” I told him, “She worries.”
And when she worried I felt bad. That same friend moved to NYC. I was home from LA and I went into the city to see my friend. I didn’t make it home from the city until about 2am. It turned out Mom called my friend over and over to see where I was, and my sister told me Mom was crying. How could I not feel guilty about that? At that point I was used to living on my own and not checking in with anybody.
The tables turned when I got married. My husband was a Naval Officer and after a few years, he was stationed in DC. We moved to Maryland. We already had a little boy and while we were in Maryland, we had a baby girl. My parents love their grandchildren, they already had four by my sisters in NY. So, Mom and Dad would take the drive down to Maryland every few months to see the grandchildren. As they would get in their car to trek back to Long Island, I would tell them to call me as soon as they got home, and I would worry for the five hours it would take them to get there.
I was in NY with my kids visiting, and Mom and Dad were out and it was snowing. They were out too long, so I called the police non-emergency line to make sure there were no accidents. My parents couldn’t believe I did that.
Now, my family and I are back on Long Island. My son is in school five hours away and I make him text me when he takes the bus back to school.
My daughter took a trip to London on her own when she was 16, to stay with her friend and her family. She would text two or three times a day. Then her friend’s dad took the girls on a trip to Paris, and I didn’t hear from her all day. I was ‘this close’ to calling the American Embassy. I was ready to get on a plane and go find her. When I finally heard from her she said, “Oh, sorry, Mom my phone was in airplane mode!” At that moment, I understood.
My daughter leaves for college in the fall. I will have to try very hard not to call her every day.
I’m 54 now and Mom is 84. We still talk at least once, sometimes, two or three times a day. I hope it goes on that way for many years to come.