Freudian Slips: The Interrupted Telephone Call

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Location: Irony, New Jersey, United States

Life takes us many places. It's a box of chocolates and a Hansel and Gretal trail of candy wrappers. I have filmed as an actor in The Happening, Invincible, The Lovely Bones, The Bounty Hunter, The Greek American, Bazookas, Limitless, TV's Its Always Sunny in Philly, Outlaw, New York, The Warrior, The Nail, Game Change, Cold Case, & commercial work includes The Philadelphia Eagles, Septa, Coors, Turbo Tax & Carnival Cruises. Freudian Slips spotlights irony in short story format.

March 10, 2005

The Interrupted Telephone Call

“I’m afraid to die,” Freddie told Daniel. “I don’t know what’s down there.” “We all fear what we don’t know, Freddie. It’s natural,” Daniel reassured him. “Yet, you were not afraid when Spring became Summer. You were not afraid when Summer became Fall. They were natural changes. Why should you be afraid of the season of death?” -The Fall of Freddie the Leaf by Leo Buscaglia
I wish to share a telephone conversation that I had with a colleague last Friday afternoon. I have tried to recall all of it but I am afraid I have left something out. It was an ordinary conversation but one that ended too soon. All week long I have been trying to hang my memory on every casual word spoken in its brief lifespan. I can hear the voice on the other end of the phone. I can feel the pressure of the receiver against my ear. Some words fade in and out like a bad cell phone call but the ubiquitous conversation both haunts and consumes me. It teases me into remembering. It teases me into forgetting.
Readers may remember my gregarious client Luigi. I have written about Luigi in a previous posting (1-30-05 Wanted Dead or Alive). Ed, his vocational counselor, and I, his social worker, grappled with the stark reality that Luigi had become medically non-compliant. We were unanimously failing to get Luigi to the point of remedial action. Medical problems were piling up and Luigi’s diabetes complicate his health matters. Scheduling, transportation, advocacy, and emotional support wasn’t doing dork. Luigi had become a pagan to reason and an atheist to his medical model. Schedule Luigi for surgery and he would return the favor by disappearing on the day of the procedure. I don’t like to give up on people but Luigi waved his own flag of surrender. Ed and I speculated how long Luigi had to live despite us constantly pumping life into his lungs.
I fretted, “I don’t want Luigi to die on my watch.” To a listener my commentary may sound contrite and self-serving but trust me it was spoken from pure exhaustion of efforts and resources. I continued, “Luigi is a high risk candidate to die from something undetected, something that could be treated in the long run.”
“What else can we do? You know our Luigi. He is playing us.” scoffed Ed.
I re-stated my position. “I will rue the day if I come to work and learn Luigi died.”
“That is a call neither one of us would want to take.” admitted Ed.
I remember chewing on a York Peppermint Patty when Ed and I thought the unthinkable out loud. Right before someone is going to die, I could have done without sounding cavalier all the while chewing a chocolate bon-bon with my mouth open. With eyes wide shut, I have all that foolishness to look back on now. Life is like a rearview mirror.
Ed chuckled, “I guess whoever retires first, the other is stuck with working with Luigi.”
“Then it’s settled.” I agreed. “It’s a race to the finish line. Hey, Ed, staff are starting to lockup the building over here. How about we take up this unsettling conversation on Monday? It will give us the weekend to think of novel ways to motivate Luigi into keeping himself alive.”
“Yeah. Talk to you on Monday, Joe.”
“Have a good weekend, Ed.”
God works in mysterious ways . Ed died unexpectedly on Sunday. Ed, you left me a lot of fond memories…and Luigi. It will take me a long time to accept your forced retirement. I can’t even get to sleep tonight. I can't retire, if you will, and you…are gone forever. In loving memory of Ed. K. 1955-2005.

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5 Comments:

Blogger justrose said...

my goodness, I am so sorry for the loss of your friend. What a marvelous tribute. What a sad and memorable conversation. And the book the Fall of Freddie the Leaf is an excellent one and I hope it is a comfort to you now. I am so sorry.

5:37 AM  
Blogger Joe Tornatore said...

thank you, justrose, and Seasons Greetings.

8:11 AM  
Blogger phoenix_amc said...

Ed was a great man. He could make anyone crack a smile. Ed cared so much about the people he worked for and with. He would bend over backwards to help someone. Ed talked passionately about his family, his pets, and his work. I will never forget how creative he was, our talks and emails, the candy he always kept in his draw, throwing things over the wall at each other… He was a true friend. I will miss him dearly, with all my heart.

Amy

9:50 AM  
Blogger Joe Tornatore said...

Amy,
Ed had a great sense of humor. I think that is one reason I identified with him. He will be missed by many. Thanks for checking out the Blog.
Joe

7:23 PM  
Blogger PaxRomano said...

Joe, thanks for sharing that with us.

I don't know what to say so I will quote that great sage, Grace Slick who rounded out her autobiography thusly:

"Life, the constantly mutating funeral party."

Amen.

RIP, Ed.

11:02 PM  

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