Ode to Joy

By Debra Ann Pawlak

Whenever my cell phone rings to the tune of Beethoven’s famous melody, joy takes over my spirit. I gladly answer knowing my daughter, Rachel, is on the other end.

“Hello, sweetie-girl!”

“Hello, lady-bug!”

And so begins one of our many long distance conversations.

It took some getting used to, but when Rachel first declared her independence and announced she was moving from our Michigan home all the way to Denver, there was no joy in my mother’s heart. I had to let go of the little girl I’d so carefully protected her entire life. That same little girl who had grown into the best running buddy a mother could have. Now, she would no longer be here. No more trips to the theater or to the mall or to the movies. Of course, I understood that my adult child needed to be on her own, but why so far away? Why Denver? Maybe, it’s just one of the hazards of today’s mobile world – whether a mother likes it or not.

When she left, Rachel urged me to get a cell phone. I never wanted one before, but I quickly signed up. It would be our way to keep in touch. My eyes, however, weren’t quite what they used to be. The display was too small so my clever son programmed the ringer with a special song for each of the special people in my life. For Rachel, I chose Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy.” That song and my cell phone have become our lifeline.

We talk throughout the day. The first sounds of “Ode to Joy” usually come while she’s driving to work.

“Hello, sweetie-girl!”

“Hello, lady-bug!”

We talk about the evening before, and what we did or didn’t do. Then I hear that famous song again while she’s on her way home. We compare notes about our workdays.

Sometimes, we go to the mall…

“Mom, I can’t decide between the red blouse or the blue one. What do you think?”

Sometimes, we go to the grocery store…

“Mom, what should I buy for dinner?”

Sometimes, we even look at television together…

“Mom, do you want to watch the game with me?”

And we both cheered for our “Motor City Bad Boys,” the Detroit Pistons, the night they claimed the NBA Championship over the Los Angeles Lakers.

Then there was that excited phone call when Rachel proudly proclaimed that we had a new member of the family.

“Mom, I got a puppy – a Cavalier! His name is Cody, and I love him to pieces! He’s soooooooooooo cute!”

But when Cody got sick soon after, the tremor in her voice said it all.

“Mom, I had to leave Cody at the animal hospital. The vet isn’t sure if he’s going to make it.”

Thankfully, things with Cody turned out just fine, and we both felt relief.

“Mom, I’m on my way home with Cody, and he’s a whole lot better now.”

I can’t say I like the fact that my daughter moved to another state, but in many ways we’ve grown closer. At least, I know that whenever I hear those familiar musical notes humming from my cell phone, she is on the other end.

It’s obvious that when Beethoven penned his famous melody, “Ode to Joy,” he had a vision of a lovely young woman with sandy-colored curls and mischievous hazel eyes. I’m pretty sure he also saw that little silver cell phone that keeps us connected.

And maybe, just maybe, somewhere out there is a missing verse that starts out with:

“Hello, sweetie-girl!”

“Hello, lady-bug!

About this writer

  • Debra Ann Pawlak Debra Ann Pawlak is an author from Michigan and has completed a book, Bringing Up Oscar, The Men and Woman Who Founded the Academy, which was published by Pegasus Books in January 2011 and soon to be released in paperback. She is currently working on her next book in the Hollywood series.

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13 Responses to “Ode to Joy”

  1. Debra, your story is every mother’s delight, to be so connected when far away. Lovely!

  2. Debra–My daughter moved to a city three hours away, and two years ago, she moved back to our “home” city. I am so glad. It’s wonderful that you two stay connected.

  3. Linda Wells says:

    Hey Girlfriend! This is a great article. Short and sweet and very lovely. Keep up the great work!

  4. Linda Wells says:

    Auntie Debbie I really liked your story about my girlfriend Rachel!!!

    Love you,


  5. jan hippler says:

    While I cherish my sons, my daughter has shared her life with me like a good friend since she has become an adult. I will miss her when she moves in the fall. I know it’s a part of her growing up and I want that for her, but I will miss her. Your article gave me a look at what I have in store. I see we can remain close despite the distance. Her ringtone is the the theme from “the Lion King” a play we saw together. Cell phones rule!

  6. Lovely article…sure takes the bite out of thinking of A Clockwork Orange whenever I hear that piece!

  7. Shelia Caggiano says:

    Wonderful article about you and Rachel. It is so hard to let our children go, but you did a remarkable job raising her to be the responsible person that she turned out to be.
    Deanna and I did the same with cell phones as our communicators. Her ring tone is Johnny Wisemillers’ Tarzan call, and mine is a baby giggling.

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