Finding my mother’s voice again

On March 13, 2019, my mother would have turned a hundred.

After her death at age ninety-five, I lost her voice for almost four years. It neither echoed in my ears nor whispered in the corridors of memory. That grieved me. Then came the dream that placed life precisely as it was in my waking moments.

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The phone rang. I picked up. Suddenly her absent voice flowed back to me. As welcome — no, more welcome — than the sound of blessed rain after a long drought.

“Hello, Kathleen,” Mom said, lively and cheerful — more so than ever in the decade before her death. “You’ll see me real soon!” She and Dad, she said, were making their way to our place in their motor home. (They did that often in the good years, before pain and infirmity prevented their annual road trips.) “I can’t wait to see you again!” she said, as our conversation ended. I woke. Touched my face, amazed to find it wet.

Her voice hasn’t left me since. I hear it everywhere. Then, this: “Nana, c’mere! I want to play you something,” my granddaughter Tabatha called recently, electronic tablet in hand. I sat beside her and a moment later there was Mom on the screen, sitting at the table with my father and my sister, playing Rummy.

She reached her hand across the table to place a tile, rearranging others to make it fit. Then she flipped her empty tile holder to show the rest. Mom had won. Again. She usually did.

I’d taken that little video on one of my trips to Mom and Dad’s home, two provinces from mine, shortly before life became unmanageable for them. I thought I’d lost it until it showed up on a computer I’d given my daughter’s family. Tabatha had found it and taped the video onto the tablet.

As I watched, smiling (tearing up a bit, too), I heard another voice on the video. The calls of our youngest grandbean, Ezra. But Ezra wasn’t born until almost a year after Mom died. It confused me at first, until Tabatha explained that he’d been playing nearby as she videoed the video.

Then she showed me another video I’d taken while visiting my parents. They sat in their favourite chairs, having morning devotions. And that voice I pray never to forget again read the Bible to me.

I’ve realized something since. Even if I ever do lose the memory, Mom’s voice continues to speak. It speaks through her faith in God, her prayers, her humour, her love and yes, even her tight-lipped stubbornness on things that mattered most to her. It speaks to me, to my children and my grandchildren; her great-grandchildren. Even to little Ezra. We wear her, whether or not we realize it, and we cannot do otherwise. And the scriptures she read and believed confirm her words to me in that dream. I will see her again.

Happy Birthday, Mom. I hear you still.

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