I zipped around the kitchen gathering ingredients for the garlic bread when I heard the back door “pop” open and the thud of little feet. The pop sound comes from the old wooden door and the thud from the rookie ball player’s feet. She was beside me grinning in about two seconds. Her sister and the rest were close behind, and soon the kitchen buzzed with beloved voices–as though we hadn’t seen each other in years.
Important matters discussed before dinner included, “What’s in this cheese dip, seafood?” and my confession, “Grandma ran out of Ovaltine. How about some chocolate syrup in milk?” This was greeted with a speculative nod, but acknowledged as an adequate substitute. Pictures of the new purple playhouse that Daddy built and Grandpa helped move were viewed on their mom’s camera.
Later as I began to clear the table, my husband and sons started in with the stories. “I remember I was about 15 . . .” or some such coming from hubby. The murmur of their voices and the occasional burst of astonishment at some quirky coincidence was oddly comforting to me. I was reminded of that beautiful, brief, lull at the dinner table when I was a kid. My dad told his old stories then, too.
Voices Around Me
A kind of melancholy came over me. What would I do without these beloved voices all around me? And not just from family, important as they are. What about friends? Won’t the day come when those voices will fall on my ears no more? Time, like the ever rolling sea, soon bears us all away. That old hymn rings true. I won’t hear my mom’s voice or dad’s anymore. When my husband had a nasty turn in his health recently, his normal, rich voice was quieted. Worry and fear trumped everything for both of us. What a relief when he began joking with the nurses!
Suddenly the high-pitched screech of two little girls came howling through the pantry, breaking into my reverie. I smiled gently as their mother shushed them because I know there are little voices that mothers and grandmothers can’t hear. Illness or death has stilled them. I know there are hearts grieving because a laugh, a quirky turn of phrase, or a whispered sentiment will no longer be heard here on earth.
So I clatter about, finishing the table clearing, dropping my own recollection into the conversation about rainy Sundays as I grab the leftover garlic bread from the middle of the table. And I thank God that I have these beloved voices around me – for now. What would life be without them?
Susan Sundwall writes from New York.
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