"In my life today," my 72-year old uncle announced not long ago, "I know I can count on the radio programs that come on throughout the day."
We were sitting at the kitchen table of his home in San Bruno that gave us a bit of ocean view, drinking a cup of coffee, allowing the last bright rays of sunshine to accompany us. I was listening.
"Let me tell you," he began, "I can turn on the radio at 8:30 in the morning while I am having my coffee and toast in the kitchen and I get KCBS' objective news."
"I prefer it," he said. "I like the way they report the news. But then at nine, I turn to KGO, I sit there and listen not because of the so called show-hosts who are biased and take to insulting the callers: You must be an idiot to disagree with me. Up yours moron. No, it's not the show's hosts I like. I listen because of the callers, who bring up valid points of view."
"Other times," he said, "I listen while I do the dishes. My Rosie did them, even when she was so sick towards the end. Remember?"
He stops. He clears his throat. He continues.
"When KGO is finished, I straighten up the house. At 9:30 a.m. I turn to KDJA. They give me my horoscope and their program is kind of a nice diversion. But it can be very serious too: Yes! You, the glitzy butterfly are going to alight long enough to start a permanent relationship. At 72? That is serious!" He laughed. "That little interlude in my morning routine is always fun."
Serious or not, he smiled impishly."Well, so those are some of the things I can count on now."
We sat and talked some more, about this and that. The sun rays had turned bright red, only a few golden strands remained. And then he turned back to the radio.
"It used to be very different," he said. "My routine was: up at six a.m. At 7:00, I kissed my Rosie good-bye and I'd be on my way to work. 7:30 I¹d take the Jitney to downtown San Francisco. 7:50 I'd be at my desk, coffee in hand, having stopped at the quaint TO GO window on Fremont St. I'd be pulling the toast out of my brown bag and enjoying a few minutes to myself before everyone else came in.
"And there I would sit, working at my desk keeping an eye on my Rosie's photo smiling at me all day. A different kind of day," he chuckled.
"Today requires acceptance of the inevitable, of what has gone by, what has been. It takes imagination, some doing, to populate my hours with people who aren't really there," he said.
"But it's comforting, to hear those radio voices, even some perhaps from a world very different from mine. I hear some call from Miami where the weather is 95 degrees, to my 56 in San Francisco, or a call from Little Rock or New York or Alaska. However, all of them are people like me. They are all there, at the flip of my dial, keeping me company."
And then he slapped his thigh and laughed hard, celebrating himself.
"Yeah. Yeah they do keep me company, good company. They do," he said, chuckling.We turned just on time to see the golden disk disappear in the horizon.
Camincha is a pen name for a writer living in Pacifica, California.