My sister, K, just called. I’m the oldest of five kids, and K is the middle child. She is the only other parent among the five of us, and her phone calls often come at odd times. Six in the morning. Nine-thirty at night.
I don’t know how, but she always seems to be out dancing ’til dawn or waking at the crack of it. Where does she get the energy to be up (and making phone calls!) at those times?
My sister’s calls come in two general varieties.
About a quarter of the time, they are the nephew variety. With no preamble, she puts her five-year-old on the phone. He cracks some unintelligible joke, like, “Tell R I have her bone.” (R is how I will refer to my six-year-old daughter). I listen politely, ask him to repeat himself a few times so I can try to decipher what he’s saying, usually have to break the news that R is at her dad’s, and then ask to talk to his mom.
But this phone call was of the other variety: seeking advice.
My two sisters and I all separated from our ill-chosen husbands in 2008. It was a mini-epidemic that brought our mother much relief, and also much moving in and out of her tiny condo. During that time, my sisters and I actually started to have adult relationships with each other. We started to become friends. And since I was–and still am–the oldest, and also the most dedicated reader of self-help books, my sisters started to ask me for advice! Finally, I get to reap the benefits of being the oldest. They turn to me!
So, it was with no surprise that my sister began her call, “I need to ask you something.” Usually, this leads to a complicated question about dating, co-parenting, or home buying, but today it was different. It was a question that made me absolutely tingle with delight.
“What is the word for when three words, like they’re, there, and their, sound the same but mean something different?”
I immediately, and with unmitigated joy and confidence, replied, “Homophones!”
She said, “Ooooooohhhhh, I thought it was homonym. But that must be when they are spelled the same but mean different things. Thanks!”
She didn’t quite hang up her phone, and I got to hear her sharing the answer with her coworkers.
I wanted to tell her, “‘They’re, there, their’ is what I almost named my new blog! I have a new blog!”
I did not in fact get to tell her this, but I hung up the phone with the purest joy I’ve felt in a long time.