I'll start out talking to my mom, and then when my dad comes around, she'll call out, "Harry! It's our older daughter on the line! Pick up the extension.
" (Yes, she always has to refer to me as the elder one.
I stopped feeling superior about it many years ago).
Then my dad will get on the line, and invariably he'll have his hearing aid turned up too high.
It's always easy to tell, because of the high-pitched squealing that soon assails our ears.
I worry that if it happens too much, my mother and I will soon require hearing aids ourselves.
So my father starts fumbling, trying to figure out how to keep participating in the phone conversation while getting the volume on his aid at the right point so that he can still hear but not get all the feedback.
Meanwhile, my mother harangues him about how this happens all the time, how he's hurting everyone else's ears, and how he ought to remember to take care of it before picking up the phone.
Really, so much of what she says is a predictable repeat of prior conversations, I wonder why Dad needs his aid turned up that high in the first place.
Sometimes I speculate how long it would take them to notice if I just put the phone down.
I don't, of course.
They do eventually get themselves all set, stop having their conversation with each other, and remember that they wanted to catch up with me, waiting there on the other end.
(I am, however, extremely grateful for the mobility provided by cordless phones.
Their back-and-forth takes about the same length of time as gathering and starting a load of clothes in the wash.
) I'd like to suggest to my dad to look into one of the more advanced digital hearing aids.
They can be made to reduce that annoying feedback that he gets, as well as to enhance the sounds he needs to hear, rather than just providing overall amplification.
But I am still their daughter (older one or not), and unless it's regarding computer use, they're not likely to take my advice about anything.
So I'll continue to enjoy my phone calls with them, to be ready to hold the phone away from my ear when Dad picks up, and to remember that my children find plenty to laugh at me for, too.