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One Simple Call

Posted on Monday, February 26, 2024
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by AMAC, Robert B. Charles
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11 Comments
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Senior woman having a lovely phone call with her friend

One simple call, that’s all. The other day, an old friend called “out of the blue.” Not too close, he just wanted to say “thank you” for something small – but he called. No ask, no setup for an ask, no politics, no big news, no opinions, no agenda, just a “thank you,” memories, updates, and done. Pushing “end,” I sat and thought.

How remarkable that anyone remembers things so small, for so long – yet we do. How unusual that someone, with work, health, bills, chores, the need to snooze, and 24-hour news, even thinks of calling.

How much more remarkable, with texting, social media, and all the modern manias – for a friend to find the time and number, summon the gumption to call, turn his intention into action, and make my day.

My thoughts flowed from there. The older we get, the more diffuse friends are, many floating off like dandelion fluff on various currents, some swirling in place, others whisked to the far corners, some catching an updraft, others a down. How soon we forget, and yet – we really never forget.

Thinking of friends lost to circumstance, time, and life, my mind flew to afterthoughts, those actions not taken despite my good intentions, deeds left in their cocoon, forlorn, so many butterflies never born.

How many times have we all said, wistfully, wishfully, wonderingly, “If I could have but one more conversation…” or “I did not know …” or “If I could just turn back time…”, and yet we cannot.

What we can do, by good fortune, is look ahead, think ahead, feel ahead, work to combine mind and heart, identify the trails gone cold, friends grown old, places where the road drew apart, and restart.

What we can do is pause to retrace the trail, remember how time’s passage and life’s priorities conspire to make us forget, even those who gave us aid around life’s sharpest bends, our old friends.

And then what? Just this – cultivate that thought, that they are worth remembering, even if you cannot call. Remembering itself is a blessing, and gives rise to gratitude; we were all helped along our way.

If you are fortunate enough to have that recall, able to make time, find the number, and summon the gumption to dial them – not knowing for sure what will come of turning your intention into action, do it.

In the aftermath of that one call from an old friend, somehow moved to bother with calling, I have begun to call others, and the results would surprise you – or maybe not.

Some are faring far better than imagined, some not as well, some are caught in the unnerving zeitgeist of our moment, all this unnecessary anxiety, hysteria, unclarity, and uncertainty – and yet were happy “lest auld acquaintance be forgot, and never brought to mind,” borrowing from Robert Burns’ Ault Lang Syne.

Not one was resentful or dismissive of the call, disinterested or dismayed, made less happy for the moment or two of shared remembering, the way in a stiff wind we might relish the hard deck, taking comfort in knowing something is still solid, that old friendship cannot be taken by time or tumult.

You might say, “Big deal” or “So what” or “Is this really worth the space you consumed with these digits, time you have taken for my reading?” And that, I suppose is up to you.

For me, one call made a difference, put me on a different plane, and reminded me that people do not forget, we really seldom do, those little things done for us, so often without thinking.

Nor do we soon forget a friend far in time or space, who “out of the blue” remembers you, who bothers to put the fickle, frenzied, wild, and wooly world away, if only for a day, to stop and offer hello – who is kind enough to look back across it all, pause for a moment – and make that call.

So nice was it to answer the unexpected overture, no ask, no politics, no agenda, just a quick trip down memory lane, nothing more, a friendship that never quit – that I sat and thought, decided I must write about it.  One simple call, that’s all.

Robert Charles is a former Assistant Secretary of State under Colin Powell, former Reagan and Bush 41 White House staffer, attorney, and naval intelligence officer (USNR). He wrote “Narcotics and Terrorism” (2003), “Eagles and Evergreens” (2018), and is National Spokesman for AMAC.

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VikkiC
VikkiC
3 months ago

So the moral of the story is…Make time, because you can’t turn back time! Thanks for the reminder…

Morbious
Morbious
3 months ago

Great piece. Ive been the lucky recipient of such a call, utterly unexpected, profoundly unlikely… many of us, including myself, aren’t good in this department. Food for thought. Just do it.

Kim
Kim
3 months ago

That’s a nice feeling, isn’t it? I still send Christmas cards, although not as many as in the past. Now and then, I send a card (and “the letter”) to someone I haven’t spoken or written to in years. Usually, I get a very positive response. It might be just that once, or they might end up asking to keep in touch. That’s the way it goes—some choose to end the relationship, and that’s fine, while others want to stay in the loop.

Four years ago, after my mother died, I went through her address book and sent short letters to her old friends and a couple of distant relatives. One of her cousins wrote back, asking to stay in touch because, other than her 2 children, I’m her last living relative. So, we write each year–what the kids are doing, medical issues, and, most importantly, some family stories neither of us had heard before.

Carol
Carol
3 months ago

This is so heart warming! I had this happen to me last year when my little sister in my sorority found me after almost 40 years! I had been trying to find her too. We moved around, married, divorced, etc. So we lost touch somewhere and then out of the blue found each other again! Talked on the phone for over two hours and realized we still had the same values that brought us together when in college! Now I have her address and phone number and she has mine, we are Facebook friends, and plan on getting together in person sometime soon! Never forget those from the past and do the best to keep in touch! Yes grateful for all those times with loved ones, that’s what really matters!!!!

Tay
Tay
3 months ago

Really nice reminder. Thankyou

Robert Zuccaro
Robert Zuccaro
3 months ago

I hate yacking on the phone. Just a short, sweet text. Done and over with. Don’t need to hear an hours worth of how Cousin Jean is doing or how the weather there is cold/hot lately…

An older blonde women laughing in the kitchen with a grey haired man.
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