For all of my life and most of my mother’s, my grandmother’s phone number has been 824-1719. It was as constant as her steady voice on the other end of the line.

When I was at her house in June I replaced the batteries in her portable phones, hoping to correct some static on her line. When I’d call her from Montana, there was a thin line of interference in every conversation. I’d asked her if she’d had her line checked by the phone company. She said she had and they said nothing was wrong. Various family members, noticing this noise too, had replaced her phones over the years but the noise was still there. In the past few months it was turning into more roar than whine so I made one last effort get her phones in working order by replacing the batteries.

A few weeks after I got home I got a text from my mom telling me that my uncle had had enough and bought my grandmother a cell phone. 824-1719 would be disconnected by the end of the week. I was, on one hand, relieved because I might actually be able to hear what she had to say but I was also a little heart sick that her number was disappearing back into the phone company’s soup of possibilities. When it gets reassigned, will the people who call it theirs know that it belonged to another family for more than fifty years? Will they care? Will they answer those who do not know that my grandmother isn’t on the other end of the line anymore with frustration wondering who the hell is Dula or AR and why do people keep calling asking for them? <More>