V O I C E S

I’ve just read in Discover Magazine that scientists have enough anatomical info about woolly mammoths, extinct birds and dinosaurs, and even our ancient human ancestor, Lucy, to recreate their voices. That’s amazing, but in some ways, it makes me sad.

It will be wonderful and instructive to hear all those ancient sounds, but the vocal chords I wish I could resurrect are my mother’s. Because of Mom, I grew up with music. I’ve written before about how she sang every waking moment of every day.

She said, “There’s never a moment some melody doesn’t pour through my head.”

Those melodies poured through our home, providing a lovely background to my childhood–when I wasn’t out climbing trees or carrying my sister around on my back, playing horse and rider.

I’ve also written about my mother’s career as a big band canary, but I’ve never mentioned the time I made her cry.

I was a little kid—a preschooler—and I was playing in her bedroom. I don’t think I was supposed to be there and I know I was not supposed to play with the old 78 rpm records. But I found them—the ones hidden away—and I dropped one. Predictably, it shattered.

When she found me, I don’t think my mother even paddled me. I don’t remember that she did. I do remember that she cried. I did not know until much later that the voice on the record was hers.

So I have only my own voice, my range is as broad as hers, but a little lower. And I have my memory of tunes—a lullaby she sang to me—she was Irish and I think the chorus must have been Gaelic. She sang—”Down in the meddie in an iddie biddie pool, fam three little fiddie and a mama fiddie too.” I remember songs like Somewhere Over the Rainbow and Serenade in Blue, Blues in the Night and Deep Purple. She learned new songs as they came out—often from the Lawrence Welk show on Friday nights. We watched it every week.

I just wish those paleontologists could recreate my mother’s voice. Wish I’d had the sense to record it when I had the chance.

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