My Mother’s Voice
Next to my bed is an old chest of drawers, it is a remnant of a very ancient and long since departed bedhead/side drawer combo, inside one of the drawers is a rectangular domed lid box, it is the remnant of what was in some dim distant past a box of handmade chocolates, inside the box are various little bits and bobs, remnants of things long long departed.
Inside the box is a little cassette tape, it is a cassette tape that fits inside an answering machine, an answering machine which is also long departed, it is also a remnant, but it’s one of my most prized possessions.
I haven’t listened to the tape in quite a long time, but I still remember it quite plainly.
“I’m going to pick up some bits at pieces at shopping, if you need something give me a ring back”
“I’ll drop in just before the kids get home from school after I’ve had a nap, shopping makes me tired”
“See you later, love you”
I don’t actually recall why I didn’t pick up the phone, perhaps I was in the toilet and missed it, or perhaps I was in the bathroom, or perhaps I just couldn’t be bothered.
It was early December and I had a brief thought that I hoped Mum wouldn’t do too much as the radiation therapy, tablets and the emphysema she had tired her out, but she was supposed to be getting better.
The Christmas card from her that year said that the coming year was going to be amazing and that she loved us all.
It was either April or May of that year and my Sister had some devastating news for me, the tests had come back and Mum had cancer, cancer of the bladder, which along with the emphysema was caused by five decades of heavy smoking.
The bottom dropped out of my world then, Mum went to hospital for radiation therapy, on tablets, some days were better than others, but she always had time for us.
There were trips to hospital to remove fluid from around her heart, but she managed to make it through and she told us she was getting better, she gave me this beautiful card for my birthday, I still have it, that’s also one of my prized possessions.
Christmas was supposed to be good one for us, time to celebrate to be together, Mum said she was going to spoil us all, all I wanted was for Mum to be well for Christmas.
It got later and later and Mum still hadn’t turned up, but I wasn’t that worried, I knew that shopping tired her out and perhaps she hadn’t felt like it after her nap, then the phone rang, Mum had collapsed at the shopping centre and was now in hospital.
When I got to see her she didn’t know me and couldn’t speak.
I went home and listened to the message again, taking in my Mums voice.
Mum never spoke to me again, I never heard her say she loved me, in the days that followed I listened to that message again and again.
I took the tape out of the machine for safety, I couldn’t have survived if anything had happened to that tape, on the day of her funeral I listened to it, on the day we scattered her ashes on the hill behind her house I listened to it.
As the months passed I didn’t need to listen to it as much, just knowing that I had it there if I needed it was enough.
When the machine broke and was replaced by a much newer model I was OK with that, because I can still hear my Mum in my head, I don’t need a tape to conjure up her voice.
Perhaps one day there might come a time when I can no longer remember what my Mum sounded like, then I will look into ways of getting the message and her voice off the tape and onto my computer.
My Mother’s Voice.