The July issue of Main Line Today contained my story about 29-year-old Toni Lee Sharpless, who went missing in August 2009 and hasn’t been found.
When asked if she thinks her daughter is alive, Donna Knebel answered bluntly, “Honestly, no. Toni would have called. She always did. My granddaughter is the same way. If she doesn’t call me, I know something is wrong.”
Knebel said Sharpless called multiple times a day to talk, or to ask if she needed anything from the store. Honestly, not a day goes by that I don’t talk to my own mother. Immediately after my interview with Knebel, I called her.
Most of us will never have to live a nightmare like Knebel’s, but mothers can relate to her putting so much stock in a phone call. From the time a child ventures to a friend’s house, Mom’s instructions include, “Call me if you need me.” New drivers are told, “Call me when you get there.” College students are reminded, “Call home and let me know how you’re doing.”
We spend time pondering the perfect gifts for Mom over the holidays and on Mother’s Day. In reality though, nothing lights up their faces more than hearing our voices on the other end of the phone. It provides instant relief; their kids are OK.
A small part of any mom’s brain is wired for doomsday when her child presents her with just about any scenario. (Going for ice cream? “Be careful in the parking lot.”) She loves the constant connectivity of cell phones but loathes the one-word replies. The most crucial element of the call is, after all, your voice. In less than a minute, my mother can sense my mood:
“Someone needs a nap.”
“Maybe you should go for a walk.”
After dumping the details of my day on her and throwing in a “How are you? How’s Dad?” she usually gives a quick answer and then peppers me with a list of follow-up questions.
Your best interests and happiness are a part of her purpose. Moms don’t receive report cards or get to cross a finish line. The simple act of a phone call is a gold star in Mom’s book.
She knows you’re alive.
She knows you’re OK.
Katie Kohler called her mother right after writing this piece. Visit her website at www.katiekohler.com.