My father is in good health. (I have to assume so, 600 miles away, because it’s a family tradition to keep illness a secret until one can say, “I’m better now. Did I forget to mention I was in the hospital?” ) Still, I mourn for him, because Dad doesn’t want to talk on the phone anymore. Even with his hearing aids, it’s hard for him to hear.
I didn’t expect to miss hearing his voice, because Dad has never been one to talk much. Our phone conversations were usually short.
How’s the weather?
How are you feeling?
Are you sure you should be mowing the lawn at your age?
Then I’d ask him the same questions.
Thomas Jefferson is credited with saying “The most valuable of all talents is that of never using two words when one will do.” I would suspect Tom got the idea from Dad, they being contemporaries and all, except my father would question why even one word was necessary.
I’m starting to realize how much Dad’s voice has meant to me, because I get much of my “voice” from him. We both can be gruff, stoic, terse, laconic—all the words than describe someone who would rather listen than to speak. Or, in my case, would rather write than speak. An old friend describes my writing voice as “dusty.” Dry. Very dry. I have to give a big chunk of credit (or blame) to my father.
There’s a small horse pasture on a ridge behind my parents’ house in North Missouri. On a clear night, one can see the lights of the nearest small town in Iowa. Sometimes, the darkening blue of that horizon is so pure, clean, and clear of light pollution that I think it’s the most perfect sky in the world. If he were a poet like Neil Young, Dad might stand on his back deck and describe the blue, blue windows behind the stars, yellow moon on the rise. But he’s not Neil Young or anyone given to purple prose. He’s simply Dad. As he looked at the same sky of deepening blue, my father would likely say, “Looks like a thunderstorm’s coming in. Better move the vehicles inside.”
Thank you, Dad, for giving me a voice like yours. Sorry it took so many words.