Listen to Their Voices
While socializing in my daughter’s kitchen during a recent Chicago visit, I got a warm fuzzy feeling all over as I realized I was talkin’ with my peeps in “our” own language.
I never realized how “Chicago” Chicagoans sound, and how peculiar our vocal inflections are to native Californians until I moved here. I tried to explain this to a person I was chattin’ with in the kitchen that day, and she had a hard time wrapping her mind around the idea that Chicagoans sound different. “Waaaht?" she asked, moving the "h" to its usual Chicago place. "This sounds normal to me.”
Well, yah,to me too. And with ma peeps, I could not for the life of me figure out a way to express how different-sounding we Midwesterners are; it was like trying to sing a song when listening to another song in stereo.
But as I was remembering that conversation, I got to thinking of other voices from the past I realized I missed and wished I could hear again. Example: when my youngest two boys were potty training together, I tape recorded some of their fabulous conversations. I lost the tapes somewhere, and I dare not recount any details here. But those little voices were precious to their Mom and would still be today. And no, I would never use them for ammo of any kind. I just wish I could hear the boys as they once were, so little, so long ago that it somehow oddly feels like yesterday. How strangely does memory play its role in our fleeting lives.
In those days it was a little more trouble to make audio and video recordings. My oldest close family members aren’t alive anymore, and wouldn’t I love to be able to hear them again? In the midst of all the distraction of too much media happening all the time, too many gratuitous and carefully curated Facebook postings, can we take just a moment to be grateful that we could, if we wanted to, record someone we love, anytime, so doggone easily?
Your mother, father, grandparent, or even sibling (perish the thought) might have something intriguing to say about a situation that changed them, a lesson they learned, a dinner they liked as a kid, etc. And maybe it wouldn’t be fascinating to us just yet…but someday it might. In the distant future, who knows who in our unique family-of-the-future just might relate to a long lost voice proclaiming: “I love the water, I love turtles and canoes and lizards and privacy…” and feel part of a tradition, a pattern, the lifeblood and soul of someone else?
I was close to my paternal grandmother, and several years before she died I sat down with her and a piece of paper and tried to trace our family back as far as she remembered. I still have the piece of yellowed paper, along with scattered notes about her own grandmother Moriah’s bad temper, and her mother’s abandonment of her children to find a job to support herself. How I wish I could still hear the stories , though, told as only she could in her own way, using her own words.
How many of these voices are in YOUR personal or family history?