I Wish I Could Hear Her Voice

Although I recall things my mom said to me and conversations we had, I miss her voice. I never recorded any conversations with her and now think about how I'd love to hear her voice.

Although I recall things my mom said to me and conversations we had, I miss her voice. I had not put much thought into hearing her voice until recently. During a visit with my (very wonderful) cousin, he mentioned watching his wedding video so we could hear my mom talk (and relive that most precious day). We did not get around to watching the video, yet his thoughtful and thought-provoking comment resonated with me.

I’ve heard stories about terminally ill people who make videos and tape recordings to leave for family and friends. Perhaps because I’ve always thought the idea is sweet, but eery or because I was too caught up in the tragedy surrounding us, I did not even think about recording my mom’s voice when we knew her situation was terminal. Yet, now that I am thinking so much about my mom’s voice, I realize how clever it is. I could choose to listen to my mom and she would speak directly to me. It would never replace our daily phone call, but would certainly fill part of the void. Just as important, my children would hear her.

While my mom’s mother, Grandma Ray, was alive, we made a point of asking her to tell her history. She lived into her 90s and certainly had substantial stories of life in Poland, her pious father, emigration to the U.S. via Cuba, raising a family in Harlem, The Bronx, etc. It made sense to record her – her stories could add important personal reflection to a course in world history! I fondly recall my Grandma’s wise sayings, many taken from reading the Bible and Torah: “Who is rich? A person satisfied with what he has.” In Yiddish, “Besser be gornit (better than nothing).” I now think about the impact any saying or story would have if heard in her voice. Although my mom’s history couldn’t measure up to her mom’s (thankfully), she certainly had plenty to say!

I am going to satisfy this newly discovered desire to hear my mom’s voice by watching and listening to my own wedding video. But, as I think about this, I must stand on the clichéd soapbox to encourage you, if it’s not too late, to record your mom (or dad or any significant older/ ill friend or relative). Keep filming events and saving the footage. Use your phone or computer to record a conversation. Tell your mom (or other person). I am not sure how my mom would have reacted, but I think she might have appreciated the idea of being heard eternally.

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dcdenizen November 15, 2011 at 11:22 PM
Dear Shari, Your post is very touching and good advice. For many years I had a Panasonic answering machine (back when they made quality electronics to last) that recorded incoming messages on a standard audio cassette. I saved many of the tapes, and now have a large collection of them with irreplaceable voice messages that serve as sort of an aural log of my life during those times. I must transfer them from magnetic tape to digital before they become brittle - same with videotapes. The most emotional messages for me to listen to are the ones from my mom and dad. It has been 9 years since I lost them, but when I hear their voices, the pain is still raw.
MrJones November 16, 2011 at 01:49 PM
A good opportunity to highlight the non-profit work of one of our neighbors: http://www.memorieslive.org/Home.aspx From the web site: "The mission of Memories Live is to help people with life-limiting illnesses preserve their images, stories and wisdom by creating personalized movies to pass on to their loved ones."
Laura Mannes November 18, 2011 at 12:09 PM
Hi Shari, Though it would be nice to have a recording of my mom's voice, I hear her voice both in my head and when I am speaking to my own children ( we all wind up sounding like our mothers, I think). The spoken voice has a powerful energy, which lives on through the generations.
Shermann November 18, 2011 at 11:26 PM
Hi Shari, My mom is still alive but my dad passed in'07. I saved all his messages on my home voicemail so when I need to hear his gentle voice, I listen. The saddest message was the one telling me he was ok and that he thought he had pneumonia. Turned out he had 4th stage lung cancer that already spread to his bones. Five months later he was no longer here . . . just like that. Glad I could still hear him.


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