Quite often on a rainy Sunday afternoon we’ll ask the kids to come for supper. Yesterday was such a day. I had two jars of homemade spaghetti sauce left from last summer’s bounty and it was as good a day as any to finish it off. And our granddaughter’s Rookie ball game had been cancelled so food at Grandma’s seemed needful.
I was zipping around the kitchen getting the ingredients ready for the garlic bread when I heard the front door “pop” open and the thud of little feet. The pop sound comes from the old wooden door and the thud from the Rookie ball player, Melodi’s, feet. She was beside me, grinning, in about two seconds. The rest of them came in the back door and soon the kitchen buzzed with beloved voices. As though we hadn’t seen each other in years, kinda nice. We had the evening ahead of us.
Important matters discussed before dinner included, “What’s in this cheese dip, seafood?” and my confession, “Grandma ran out of Ovaltine. How about some chocolate syrup in milk?” This was greeted with a speculative nod, but acknowledged as an adequate substitute, three cups later. Pictures of the new playhouse, purple, that Daddy built and Grandpa helped move an hour ago were viewed on Mom’s camera. Quite the builder is our son, Carl. And on it went until the spaghetti water boiled.
Not much was said during dinner and no one was surprised when Sierra, two, escaped her chair and scooted beneath the table to giggle at all the feet tucked under. A true little kid sound if ever there was one. Her big sister was done next and the two of them ran into the living room to color and watch Dora. Ah, the sound of silence – for about three minutes and then more giggling and “singing” if you can believe it. I’ve recently taught them Take Me Out to the Ballgame with emphasis on “root, root, root for the home team” with fist pumping and fingers flying at the “one, two, three strikes you’re OUT!” All sung in at the top of their lungs.
As I began to clear the table, husband and son started in with the stories. Because of the horrific tornadoes in Texas the topic was storms and the ones we’ve suffered here in the Northeast. “I remember I was about fifteen . . .” or some such coming from hubby. The murmur of their voices and the occasional burst of astonishment at the sheer memory of two foot waves on Kinderhook Lake was oddly comforting to me. I was reminded of that beautiful, brief, lull at the dinner table when I was a kid. Dad told his old stories then, too. We asked him questions – eager to know more about the good old days. Quite an education.
Then a kind of melancholy came over me. What would I do without these beloved voices all around me? And not just from family, important as they are. What about friends? Won’t the day come when those voices will fall on my ears no more? Time, like the ever rolling sea, soon bears us all away. That old hymn rang so true just then. I won’t hear my Mom’s voice or Dad’s anymore. When my husband had a nasty turn in his health a year or so ago, his normal, rich voice was quieted. Worry and fear trumped everything for both of us. What a relief when he began joking with the nurses!
Suddenly the high pitched screech of two little girls came howling through the pantry, breaking into my reverie. But in the nicest possible way – pierced eardrums aside. I smiled as their mother shushed them partly because I know there are little voices that mothers and grandmothers can’t hear. Illness or death has stilled them. I know there are hearts grieving because a laugh, a quirky turn of phrase, or a whispered sentiment will no longer be heard here on earth.
So I clattered about, finishing the table clearing, dropping my own recollections of past storms into the conversation as I grabbed the leftover garlic bread from the middle of the table. And I thanked God that I have these beloved voices around me – for now.
Whatever would life be without them?