2012.07.18 Text messages record my family history

Written by David Green.


Sixteen months ago, I purchased a cell phone with a QWERTY keypad. The phone I was replacing had the ability to text, but I never used that function with its archaic telephone keypad layout.

The new phone came “free” when my kids added me to their plan. I didn’t especially want a keypad because I wasn’t really planning to ever text. 

But, the phone was purple and I really  like the color purple so I figured, what the heck. If I ever needed to text, it would have the capability to do so. 

I tested it first and knew I was selecting a phone with a tiny tiny keypad unsuitable for my fat, fat fingers. Still, the pretty purple persuaded me. It outweighed the paltry and piddly space to push letters and numbers.

Sixteen months later, even though I don’t do all that much texting, my purple cell phone now regularly says, “! Message box full: You will not be able to send or receive messages until you delete some messages. Clean up now?”

“Clean up” involves selecting an option to delete all messages one month, two weeks, one week, or one day old or messages with attachments.

I am incapable of wantonly deleting messages in this manner. I have to read through them individually to make sure I don’t delete messages such as this random Dec. 15 one from David: “Your fly is open and you forgot your bra.”

Or the one Rosie sent when her family was on their way to visit her friend Sarah in Philadelphia earlier this month:

“Caro is my baby—at the airport making friends with another 16 month old girl and pulling up the girl’s shirt to poke her belly button...and unVelcroing her shoes. And is giving her hugs.”

Rosie at that age wasn’t quite as forward with the belly button poking, but she was known to hug fellow toddlers in airports so vigorously she’d lose her balance and they’d both fall down in a heap.

And then there are moments I want to preserve such as this one captured in a text sent to David when I was in Miami earlier this month after Ben and Sarah’s baby was born three months premature.

“Ben bent over and looked inside at the top of Ry’s incubator. When I asked what he was doing he said he was just checking out the view from Ryland’s perspective.”

And David responded, “That’s my boy. I like that.”

When Maddie found an opportunity online to join a three-person crew (with an older Australian lawyer and a 22-year-old guy from Argentina) sailing on a 34-foot yacht for two to four weeks from the Gold Coast of Australia to the Whitsunday Islands, I was worried that she would do it, and especially worried when she e-mailed me that David seemed to be in favor of it.

Still in Miami and very on edge because of Ryland’s progress, I texted him this fiery message:

“Maddie says you seem to be into the idea of her going sailing with two unknown men on a small boat in an ocean in the winter in a foreign country with no escape route...really?”

He replied that he told her he could never convince me that it would be all right. And that maybe she could find a day or weekend cruise in Byron Bay and that he hoped she didn’t come home disappointed.

I want her to have great experiences but at this point, I don’t care if she comes home disappointed that she didn’t learn to surf and sail. I just hope she comes home alive and well.

Looking back over these texts while trying to delete them, I’m reminded what a crazy stressful time early July was. I’m always on edge when my kids are flying, but Rosie’s trip was nothing compared to Maddie’s surf and sail plan. But even that pales in comparison to Ben’s baby Ryland, a beautiful little miracle fighting to thrive. 

“I can only imagine the worst during these long periods of silence,” David complained in a text the day Ryland had his first transfusion and I couldn’t talk on the phone without crying because I was so worried about him. And I couldn’t send texts until I had deleted messages. Plus there was the issue of my fat fingers...sending texts is not an easy thing.

David had sent a series of irrelevant texts that night hoping to get my attention and elicit a response. I seem to have deleted all but this one, “Maybe I’ll score some crack tonight.”

No way can I clean up that message.

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