It was the one thing that would always stop me in my tracks.
It was not a police officer, or deputy, or anyone in any shape, form, or fashion a person of authority. Also, it wasn’t a coach or a teammate or a neighbor.
Only one thing could do it. A voice. My Mom’s voice.
“Joe, come in here.” I can hear it right now as if it was 40 years ago and, while I was a pretty good kid, you just never knew what was going on.
It is the one thing that has always and will always bother me when it comes to my kids and my mom.
My daughter was around eight and my son two, when my mom started to get sick and never recovered. As they get older, they will never remember her voice in times of good and in times of bad and in times of amazing comfort.
This all hit me on a Saturday afternoon when my son and I were at the store and a voice from behind stopped me in my tracks. The same tone. The same delivery. The same projection. Everything was the same. I couldn’t move.
“Dad, are you O.K.?” My son was asking me a question because he could tell I was shaken to the core. “Yes, yes all is O.K.” I looked around and it was a mom telling her son to go grab something from the next aisle. I can’t count how many times I went with her to the store and she would tell me to grab something down an aisle.
I watched them go about their business and it hit me again that her voice, that unique voice to me, would always be just that. Unique.
I am sure my son looked at me as if I had lost my mind and if I tried to explain, I probably couldn’t.
If I did, it would go this way: “A voice that scolded me when I ruined a marriage. A voice that praised me when I graduated from college at 28. A voice that told me how beautiful my daughter was when she was born. A voice that told me she wasn’t feeling well and that she was sorry for what was happening.”
She has now been gone from us for 10 years. 10 years of an echo and a memory of that beautiful voice.
A voice that one day I will hear again when she says, “Welcome home. I have been waiting for you.”