My Father’s Voice

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I heard my father’s voice the other day..for the first time in 16 years. My father died in the fall of 1994. He died in his sleep, just the way everyone says you’re supposed to go. He had a list beside his bed of the things he intended to do the next day. He just didn’t wake up.

A few days before he died he had phoned me and left a message and I didn’t get back to him in time. I also, somehow, erased the message. I had no other record of his voice…no tape recordings, no film, no video. And so, with each year that passed since his passing, I forced myself to remember what he sounded like. I thought I still knew but I really couldn’t be positive without some reference. Sometimes I thought that I could summon up the cadence and tenor of his speech by staring for a while at an old photograph. Despite those efforts, I felt that much of him had inevitably slipped away.

Then a couple of days ago I put a disc into my computer featuring some raw television footage of my childhood home. I had done a News series ( coincidentally, just before my father died) on revisiting your roots and one of those pieces was a walk through my favorite family house…the one where I think I spent the best years of my life. It was a bit of a breathtaker, frankly. I had loved the house and the deeply wooded area of the old neighbourhood. The current owners very graciously allowed me and a cameraman to spend an hour by ourselves in there. Suddenly I was awash in memory. There was the glassed-in den where we put up all the Christmas trees. There was the long, dusty basement where we used to ride our bikes. And there was my parent’s bedroom at the end of a long, long hallway…the place my mother had used as a final sanctuary..and where she had died from cancer at the tender age of 44. I didn’t have any tangible record of my mother’s voice either.

So I stood there with tears in my eyes while we tried to produce a little television. It just so happened that while the cameraman was rolling on an exterior shot of the home, my sister (standing maybe 20 metres away) got a call on her cellphone. It was my dad wondering if we were going to be able to come over for lunch….and the moment my sister took the call, the radio receiver on the back of the television video camera picked up the signal. So the call was accidentally captured. In a few months my father would be gone but I couldn’t know that. And I didn’t know that a record of who he was would sit in a dusty corner of my home office for 16 years. It startled me. It was like listening to a ghost. It was just a snippet of small talk but it could not have had bigger meaning.

The older I get the more I miss the old man but I think that all of those years trying to recall his voice must have payed off. When I heard him once again he sounded exactly as I remembered.


7 Responses to “My Father’s Voice”

  1. Wow, Dave. Just Wow. I found a cassette tape with my dad’s voice on it a few months ago. I know exactly what you mean. It had been 27 years since I heard his voice. Wow, Dave…


  2. That is beautifully written.

  3. Elizabeth Says:


  4. That is so nice you were able to hear his voice after such a long time. My husbands Dad passed away when he was 12, he is now 35 and sadly there aren’t any recordings. I’m glad your story has a happy ending….well you know what I mean.

    Take care…love your blogs whenever I get a chance to read them!

  5. Victoria Says:

    The memory of my Father is crystal clear. He was a man of understanding, humour and warmth but his voice also escapes me. I read your lines with a tear in my eye and my Dad’s voice came just a little closer. He was noted for his colourful language, but around the kids took to saying “holy bald headed moses” quite often. Imagine my surprise when I found those very words coming from my own mouth just the other day.
    I may not hear the voice but I remember ALL the words.
    Love Victoria

    • ‘Holy bald headed Moses!’…I love that. I still remember my father’s catch phrases too..none of which make any sense at all (and very few would be acceptable in polite company)..but they undoubtedly become part of the family dynamic, don’t they?

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