(I tried to post on your actual birthday, but I had password complications… don’t ask. But as we at Eddings Hill know very well, a birthday really lasts all week long. Did Granny and Grandaddy stop being excited about you on the second day? I ask you. Nor yet at the end of a week, I dare say.)
Here’s one thing I miss the most these days…
– February, 2006
As I put the phone to my ear, I can hear her talking away from it to one of the little boys. (“Well where’d you leave it, son?”)
“Good afternoon,” I say anyway.
A pause, while the remote voice offers advice – the very best for all misplacers of jackets – (“Well go look for it; you’re not gonna find it, standin’ there.”) then, “Kathryn?”
(Every single time.) I smile. “Molly.”
“Hi, darlin’…” I love that. “Let me speak to Papa.”
“Yes’m; he’s outside – I’ll go find him.” I step outside with the phone and gingerly cross the sharp little rocks of the driveway, heading toward the distant sound of the mower, off down by the curve of the road next the woods. Fresh mown grass smells so sweet to me. Into the phone, “Have y’all left school yet?”
“Yes, we’re just leavin’ Sam’s, an’ we’re on the way home….. Our family’s happy, I will take care of you all, God’s in his heaven, all’s right with the world.” Well, that’s not what she actually says, but somehow that’s what I hear: the comfort of Mama’s voice.
It’s the voice “low and sweet” my Papa fell in love with, and which compliments his so beautifully; the voice that sang her own version of Goodnight, My Someone so sweetly to us at bedtime with much rubato, whiting out a bit on the high notes (sometimes squeaking and making us laugh), then would drift in to us, soothing and mellow, from the kitchen with a very old hymn while she washed the supper dishes (with her toes curled under). And then we’d wake up next morning to her voice and Papa’s giggling and laughing from the next room – Papa could make her get so tickled first thing in the morning; they sounded so nice together.
It’s the voice I listen impatiently for, when we sing in church, while she delays to find the right page, or pauses to “admonish” a young son or to soak in the words we’re singing….. (I need that smooth strain of alto, holding everything together, the essential element of warmth in our family singing at home, whose absence from it distresses me like the missing thousandth puzzle piece or a lack of pigment in a color.) Harmony is somehow suspended till she resumes….. There, that’s better.
And I can’t rest easy at night till I’ve kissed her and heard her say to me, Goodnight, darlin’… love you too.”
A very beautiful sound.
Happy birthday, Mama; I love you.