Another Day in the Country
I recognize that voice
© Another Day in the Country
The other day I was listening to something on television and the advertisements came on. You know how it is, 5 minutes of programming, 10 minutes of ads! I don’t like advertisements, so if I’ve recorded the program I fast-forward or if I wasn’t that lucky, I go do something else. Suddenly on one of the ads, a voice came on talking about a product, and I recognized that voice. It stopped me in my tracks.
I knew that voice! Whose was it? Where had I heard it before? It was so familiar! I don’t even remember the program I was watching or the product that voice was advertising, but the voice haunted me. I went to bed trying to figure out the puzzle. I woke up thinking about it. It became an obsession. Then I figured it out: That voice was the same automated person who spoke to me each month when I paid my credit card. Mystery solved. Her job as “the voice” took her into many venues.
The sound of the voice of a loved one is one all of us can relate to. Some of those voices are long-silenced but I can still hear the timbre in my grandmother Ehrhardt’s voice, and I can mimic how she used to call my grandpa to come eat.
I still can hear my father’s voice in my ear. He always sounded like a preacher, even talking to his daughters. Mother was ever the preacher’s wife when she’d answer the phone, “Mrs. Ehrhardt speaking.” I sometimes fear I’ll forget what Tim’s voice sounded like because I only knew him for 10 years and he was not part of that indelible younger memory. “Watcha doin?” he’d call. “Talking to you, silly goose,” I’d answer.
When your children are young, you sometimes get weary with their constantly chattering voices. I used to long for a little silence. I thought I’d always remember what they sounded like; but I’ve forgotten. Now, I listen to my grandson’s voice and will myself to remember his unusual way of talking.
The other morning he came in to my bed and said, “Baba, did you know that when something magical happens, that’s how you know there is a God?”
Did I know? Where did that come from suddenly? His mother told me it was from a discussion they’d had the night before at bedtime.
The evening my daughter’s husband called and told me that Jana had been in a car accident, he gave me the number of the intensive care unit so that I could check on her. Being unconscious for four hours is no small thing, and when I finally was able to talk to her on the phone, it was the most wonderful thing in the world to hear that voice. I knew that voice in all its incarnations from childhood lisp through motherhood and I’ve never been so grateful to hear her forming words, able to think and speak — though hesitantly.
A week after the accident, I drove her up to the college campus where I once taught classes. She wasn’t yet approved by the doctor to drive on her own. Time flies! I was pregnant with Jana on this campus, and here she was now a college teacher in her own right in that same gym where I’d choreographed programs, painted backdrops, and created events.
I was talking to Dagfinnr when a gray-haired man came striding across the gym toward me, “Pat Wick, that is you!” he said. “I recognized your voice. Remember when you interviewed me on the radio?”
Literally, 30 years had gone by since I’d seen him. Once a student, then a young professor on campus and now head of the athletic department. He may not have known who I was in another setting — we both had changed in all those years. We were older — our bodies heavier, our hair lighter— but he recognized my voice.
In this other life, so far from Kansas, I had a radio show for 15 years. People became very familiar with my voice. I loved radio because I could scramble out of bed in the morning and head for the studio without dressing up fancy, and nobody cared what I looked like. The listeners weren’t distracted by what they saw; they just heard the voices. It was enough.
My oldest daughter was adopted. I remember so well the day we brought her home from the hospital. She was 4 days old, lying on her tummy on a blanket on the couch. We were sitting around talking to friends when she lifted up her head and looked around the room with her bleary baby eyes.
“Look at her!” we exclaimed. “She’s already so strong, so smart!”
Later, I learned more about newborns and realized what was happening for her. She heard voices. She had lifted her tiny head, searching the room for that one voice that she’d known for months as sure as a heartbeat, and it was not there. I could love her, care for her, raise her; but I could never duplicate that voice.
It’s another day in the country. May the voices you hear today bring you smiles!