Essay: The Human Voice

Nov 27, 2020

I used to keep a daily journal and recently reread a few of them.  In addition to my own voice, I was grateful to hear other people talking—not my version of what they said but in their own words.

There was my dad, saying, “Try and get along.”  What he wanted was for my brother and me to stop fighting.  Other versions were:  “Don’t rock the boat” and “Let sleeping dogs lie.”  Conflict made Dad uncomfortable, so he’d do anything to avoid it. 

Our mom had a brighter outlook.  “Everything will be all right,” she said and even though I knew  this was beyond her power, it comforted me.  So much so, that I said it to my own daughter and we made it into an acronym:  E-W-B-A-R.  Ewe-bar.  It’s every parent’s wish, of course.

My maternal grandmother said, whenever she served us a meal, “Don’t eat any more than you want.”  Unlike my parents, she didn’t insist that I clean my plate.  And the message was about more than food.  She meant you could bend the rules a little and not be punished. 

Listening to these familiar phrases again, I am struck by the enduring power of the human voice—to scold, to forgive, to comfort.  Maybe everything will be all right, after all.