I have no image to accompany this post. I don’t know what silence looks like. Beautiful and pastel? Stark and haunting? Bold and abstract, or a misty landscape?

All I know is that the last sound of my mom’s voice, before ALS began its slow heist, is gone. Before, I could call her, and if she didn’t pick up, I could still hear her familiar ladylike tone – elegant and assured, straightforward, not too sweet, not too harsh. The voice that woke me on school days, called me to dinner, set me straight and cheered me on. “You’ve reached 883-4645….,” Mom announced, crisp and clear.

But then we bundled her phone and internet service, and her greeting message had to be changed. Now when I call home, some mousy gal at the phone company who kindly helped mom out says, in a too soft, very Southern treacly voice, “Hello, you’ve reached blah blah blah….please leave a message.”

Here’s the message I want to leave: Give us back the sound of our mother. Give us back the old recording. Let me put it in a keepsake box, to listen to, again and again—to frame its gentle inflections, to hold precious its tones of assurance and caution. To offer as proof to some nonexistent insurance company for my claim against this senseless robbery.


~ by Stephanie on 01/20/2010.

3 Responses to “A.Loud.Silence”

  1. A “senseless robbery.” What a clear expression of a terrible reality. I am so very sorry that your mom and your family are being robbed in this way. Your words of mourning for the sound of her voice are beautiful; few of us really appreciates such things until they are gone, because we take them for granted. You are reminding me to treasure the sound of the voice of my loved ones. I have this gift of awareness because of your mother, and you. Thank you.

  2. I keep my sons’ voices in my telephone inbox for a really long time — it bothers me that I might forget them as they change. And my father once gave me a tape cassette of me, reciting a poem at age ten or so. It was a wondrous thing to “hear” myself. This is such a poignant, powerful post. I am sorry that you have lost your mother’s voice but think, perhaps, you’ve recalled it in beautiful descriptive language here.

  3. I am so sorry for your loss. I love how you appreciate your mom and I recognize how lucky she is to have you for a daughter. I wish I could say your loss has only made me appreciate my mom’s crisp adorable southern voice more. I am sure that is the “right” thing to do. Unfortunately your words make me jealous, a feeling nearly foreign to me as I live and amazingly blessed life. But there it is: jealousy. You see, my mom’s voice is clear, articulate, and even strong. It is her mind which calcifies over anxiety and her heart which suffers from atrophy. The entertaining mother I remember speaking of God’s love, caring for neighbors, and finding beauty in the day is gone. She fills an hour with excuses for why she has chosen to move two states away from her 6 grandchildren. I do wish you could hear your mother. There is a scene in the movie Fireproof where a mother who lost her voice in a stroke tenderly adores her daughter while her eyes announce she fully comprehends her daughter’s pain and situation. I pray that you have at least that comfort.

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