Another not so happy post on an otherwise happy day, folks. I think I might be good at those.
I was talking to David last night, and I told him after my grandfather died (I was 17 at the time), it took me about six months to forget his voice. The day I realized I’d forgotten it sticks out MORE in my memory than the day he actually died because it hit me that hard. At the time, I’d tried to go over a few things he’d say all the time, his catch phrases as it were, but even those didn’t sound right inside my head. I wasn’t getting it right. I cried more for him then than I had at his funeral. I felt that I was failing on some basic human level. I swore I’d never forget him, and there I was, not even capable of recreating his voice correctly in my imagination. I felt like a shitty grand-daughter.
I’m doing it now with my grandmother, and I’m getting a tad bit melancholy to say the least.
Admittedly, I can get certain things down straight. When she’d pick up the phone, she’d say “Hello Darlin'”. I remember how she’d say my name – Hill-da-ree – and I remember her calling YOO-HOO up the stairs when she wanted my attention or the attention of my mother. That stuff, the stuff I heard all the time from infancy to almost 30, I still have. The rest of it is going. I sometimes wish I had a recording of her speaking because she had a lovely voice. It was strong and musical, and she was such an animated speaker. You really got into her stories because of how she’d tell them. It wasn’t so much the words as the sounds she made. She could hold an entire room’s attention on her best days.
Now, though. Now I’m forgetting the lilts and certain speech patterns that made Dorothy so wonderful, and it’s tough. Far tougher than my grandfather. Though I loved him, it wasn’t the same. Dorothy was the voice that made sense when I was overreacting. She was the one who always said she loved me at the end of every conversation, regardless of the topic. She was the one who knew how to make me feel like I had worth even when I felt that I was a vaccuum of energy to everything and everyone around me. Sure, I can still guess what she’d say to me under those circumstances (having that is a small victory), but I can’t remember HOW she’d say them, and that’s hard.
My mother said something a few months back that I found interesting – and now – relevant to my latest emotional struggle, at least on the fringe. Apparently researchers are saying smell is the last sense to diminish when you lose someone. My great aunt Gloria, for example, lost one of her sons at a very early age – nineteen or so, if I recall correctly. She wouldn’t give his clothes away because every once in a while, to remind herself of him, she’d open his closet and just smell, so she could remember . She’d cry afterwards, obviously, but I think that’s how she exorcised her demon. I know I could do the same right now if I wanted to. Mom gave me all of my grandmother’s hats and scarves because she knew I’d want them. Gram never went out of the house without her hats, and they all smell like her perfume.
I don’t know if smelling her (wow that is weird to type) would help my memory of her voice at all, but I’m afraid to even try at this juncture. I’ve held it together fairly well over the past six months. Hell, I didn’t cry at her funeral. It took me over a month to really sit down and grieve, and now I’m not so sure I want to invite that level of grieving back into my life. I still think about her every day, and don’t I wish I didn’t sense her voice going away, but I’m not quite ready to jump into the clothes sniffing level of crazy yet. One day, maybe. But not right now.
I guess I’ll just wrap my memories of YOO-HOO and Hello Darlin’ around me to keep the sad at bay.