THE text message from my neighbour didn't ring any alarm bells when it came through the other night while I was about 100 kilometres from home.
Without my glasses I can't make out a thing on the screen apart from the fact a message has been received. I can tell if it's someone I know because letters will appear making up a word, or words. If it's someone I don't know, or haven't put into my phone, I can recognise a string of numbers.
But that's about it. My sons think I'm making it up when they shove a phone in my face with a photo I can't make out.
"It's me with the cat. She's the one with the fur. You must be able to see that," or "There's the three of us standing in front of McDonald's trying to find Mitch's wallet because he lost it for the 278th time," are the kind of comments I get when I squint and struggle to make out much at all. Why you'd take photos memorialising the search for a lost wallet, I don't know, but I put it down to a generational thing.
"When I was a girl...." and then I'll launch into one of those rants your children are forced to endure because you're their mother. And if they don't you'll start talking about the hours you were in labour giving birth to them, regardless of who's listening.
"Just wait until you're old and your eyesight goes. When I was a girl...." and then I'll launch into one of those rants your children are forced to endure because you're their mother. And if they don't you'll start talking about the hours you were in labour giving birth to them, regardless of who's listening.
Anyway, my poor eyesight explains my lack of concern when this text message came through. That and the fact I receive many text messages and I'm not always thrilled to receive them.
I drive some friends nuts by responding to their 300-word text message essays with a "Yep" or "OK".
"I hate writing text messages. I hate having to read long text messages even more," is the response when they complain. I added icing to the cake with one friend, who's particularly wordy with her messages, by reducing my "OK" to "K", and "Yep" to "Y".
Her: "I can't believe you sent me a single letter after all the effort that went into mine."
Me: "But when I wrote 'K' you knew it stood for 'OK', didn't you?"
Her: "Yeah, but..."
Me: "I rest my case."
The text message from the other day was a string of numbers, accompanied by the top of a photo which just looked like a black blob.
I was going to ignore it because I couldn't be bothered fishing around in my bag to find my glasses, but I was mildly interested in what the photo showed.
Even with glasses it was nothing but black blobs, but at least I could read the thing by then.
"Hi Jo, It's Bessie (real name changed because she'll be embarrassed), your neighbour, just letting you know..." and then I flicked down further to see what was happening.
She hadn't sent me a text message before but she writes well. Out poured a story about the drama that had been happening in my street for a few hours, and the outcome which centred on my house.
My neighbours across the road have a fluffy little dog called Harvey, who is a mate of my fluffy little dog called Lloyd, or used to be, until Lloyd slowed up with the inevitable march of time. He is now 16.
A healthy 16, I might add. As the vet who checked him over about a month ago (only $350 including blood tests, a bargain) said: "He's nearly deaf, he's nearly blind and he has dementia, but apart from that he's a pretty healthy 16-year-old with a good, strong heart and no sign of arthritis."
If only I have a similar report card when I'm 112 and reach the human equivalent of a dog of 16.
Lloyd and Harvey still meet every so often out the front when my neighbours and I get talking. Lloyd is usually oblivious to Harvey until he's breathing in his face, but they bound around for a few seconds until Lloyd runs out of puff and Harvey just runs off.
On the day of the text message I'd left Lloyd downstairs with the back door open because one of my sons was coming and going.
My neighbours were gardening and Harvey wandered from their place to mine and back until they went inside for dinner. At some point they realised Harvey wasn't with them.
He is a much loved family pet. The text message relayed the lengths the family went to find him. First calling out his name up and down the street, which isn't long. Asking neighbours if they'd seen him. Then driving further afield to places where he's been. Down to the beach. Up to the lookout. But no sign of him.
They came back in the dark and pulled into their driveway, a sad little family of mum, dad and two kids worried sick about where their little man was.
My next door neighbour recounted what happened next, after the sound of a barking Harvey from inside my house caused his family to rush across the road, laughing and relieved, to see their dog standing on a coffee table in my loungeroom near one of my front windows, happy to see them but unable to get out.
The black blob photo with the text message suddenly made a bit more sense as a photo taken with a flash showing a frantic little black dog in a darkened room.
The text message was partly an apology for the rescue operation that followed, and a reassurance that Lloyd, my trusty guard dog, slept through the whole thing. We worked out Harvey jumped into my backyard via the carport and ran in the back door before my son finally shut it.
Most days I walk with Lloyd in our quiet street and neighbours ask how he's going. Every so often he surprises by bounding ahead like a puppy, as if he's suddenly remembered wild runs of his youth.
Harvey is still serving a term of home detention.