Thursday, March 31, 2011

How I Caused an International Incident...

I worry! - A lot!

My kids can tell you that I worry about them the most.  If I come home, and one of the kids is not there, even though they were supposed to be – I don't just worry, I flip. 

Truth be told, my first instinct is to call 911.  I don’t -  because calling 911 when your kids are 5 minutes late  or went to the store without telling you – is insane, but just between you and me, that's what I'd like to do.

So instead, I text them (just to find out that they left their cell phone at home) then visit the neighbors (to the kids' utter emberrassment) and call everyone I know to inquire about their whereabouts. 
By the way, my kids are 17 and 20 – young adults - not 2 and 5…..

But I digress....

Recently, I have found something new to worry about - my parents.  They are getting up there in age and we've had several close calls in the last year.  Unfortunately, my parents live an ocean away from me - so I worry long distance.

My parent's wedding anniversary was a few days ago.  I was born on my parents' first anniversary.

For the last the last 34 years, my parents and I have celebrated the occasion of their anniversary and my birthday with a "champagne" toast at 6:08 am, the time of my birth.

The tradition started when I was a teenager.  It survived high school, college, my emigration to the US - complete with a 6 hour time difference between our locations.  It survived a marriage, the birth of my children, single parenthood and even a "Spring forward" time change that suddenly didn't not coincide between Germany and the US.

This traditional celebratory toast was supposed to happen a few days ago.

I am currently training for a half marathon with a friend and we meet at 6 am in the morning to run.  The run needed to happen since the half marathon is upon me, so had to postpone the toast by about an hour or so. Nothing that a little creative scheduling could not fix.

Unfortunately, I didn't manage to talk to my parents the night before about the slight change in timing. Instead, I called them at 5:30 am (11:30 am their time) just before I headed out on my run. Nobody picked up the phone, so I left a message: "I am going to be running a little late and I will call you when I get back from jogging." 

At 6:45 am I was back from the run, called them again - and did not get an answer.  Hm..?  This had never happened - in 34 years....

As I headed off to work shortly thereafter I wondered where they could possibly be.

I called them again at 8 am - no answer.  Hm..?  Should I be worried?  What could they be doing? 

Maybe I would have better luck reaching my Mom on her cell phone.  Unfortunately, I did not have that number on me, so at 8:30 am (2:30 pm German time), I sent an e-mail to my brother in Germany "What's Mom's cell phone number?"

I am downight obsessive when it comes to checking my e-mail. Clearly, that's not my brother's problem.

When I had not heard from my brother by 10 am (4 pm German time) - as far as I was concerned -  my parents have been missing for more than 4 hours - I decided to send out a Facebook message to all my German relatives.

Maybe one of them would know my Mom's or my brother's cell phone number.  Included in the message were my brother,  his sons (nephew-1 and nephew-2), his girlfriend, the girlfriend's daughter and a cousin's daughter (cousin-once-removed). Essentially, the note said "I already e-mailed my brother, but have not heard back.  Have been trying to call Mama/Oma all day. Does anybody know, if they are on vacation?  Does anybody know Oma's or my brother's cell phone numbers? "

At 11:30 am (5:30 pm German time) I finally heard from my brother.  He wished me a Happy Birthday, but didn't know anything about our parents' whereabouts.  He gave me the cell phone numbers I needed and promised that he would investigate.

When he called me back, he had not been able to talk to our parents, but he had spoken to their neighbor.  She reported that the blinds on my parent's house were closed, and that one of their cars was gone.  She also talked to another neighbor, who had seen them air out the bedroom in the morning.

Now we were getting somewhere.  They had left the house. Now the only question was whether they went on a day-trip - or - the hospital....

At this point, I used Mom's cell phone number to send her a text message: "Where are you?", but did not get an answer.

By noon (6 pm German time), I had received a reply to my Facebook message.  It was nephew-1, who mused that it was unlikely that they were on vacation.  He did however have the cell phone numbers I had asked for.  Since he occasionally borrows the car, I did take the opportunity to confirm with him that he, in fact, did not have the car.

In the meantime, back in my reality in the US, my coworkers wanted to take me out to lunch for my birthday, but - while my body was present - my head was sort of in Germany.  Since most of them are imports with parents in other countries, they understood.

At 12:19 am (6:19 pm Germany) I heard back from my brother's girlfriend.  She reported that my brother was heading to my parents' place to check on them.

Then suddenly, nephew1 sent a message saying that Oma was at home now.

Oh, the relief!

I immediately called my Mom at home.  She told me that they had been to a funeral in the morning.  The rest of the day was spent enjoying the beautiful spring day - and they simply forgot about their anniversary (and my birthday) until they were on their way home.

Little did they know that their temporary absence would cause an international incident.....

(Since the parent problem was solved, I could now happily go to lunch with my coworkers.  They took me out for Indian - my favorite.)

My parents and I did manage to toast each other on skype later that night - just before midnight their time. 

At that time, we also laughed about "the rest of the story" that played out on Facebook.

I shared the rest of the conversation with my parents on skype - and when I got to the term "betagteren Herrschaften" (someone who is getting up there in age), my Mom nudged my Dad and said: "If anybody asks, those elderly people, that's us......."

I love those elderly people....

1 comment:

  1. Happy Birthday, Steph!!! I laughed at your international crisis. I am a chronic worrier myself, and am a great at making up all the 'what if' scenarios. Glad to hear everything was okay!

    Laura's Last Post: The Madness of March