It was no use to tell her there was rockin' chairs where she was goin'-- no use at all, until her first baby came along. Then she had to choose between her rockin' chair and the cradle, so she gave up the chair. She gave up the chair but she didn't give up the seat. She sat up all one night just to unravel the cane bottom seat. And from then on she wore that cane like it was a life preserver, all of it wrapped around her waist like a belt. When a snow trapped them in the Rockies she let them burn everything they had, cradle and all, except the Bible and that damn cane. Then in the spring I was born and after she wrote my name in the Bible I think the very next thing she did was work on a chair. Spend all of her spare time puttin' that old seat in a new chair. Eight more of us, besides me, grew up sittin' on it. First our names in the Bible then our bottoms on that chair. I used to think there was something crazy about how she held on to that cane, and the trouble she had bringin' it and the family Bible through. But I've learned that her home didn't need any more to furnish it. That little piece of cane was a line that she stretched across the country ahead of both the telephone and the telegraph. And it kept her in touch with more important things. Between the Bible and that chair she had room for whatever happened, and she kept our heads in the one and our bottoms where they belonged.
Trim-Pretty-Mom and blond-haired son were in the store yesterday. I hadn’t seen them in a long time. They sat at the round table right next to the one I was sitting at. I was happy to see them and careful not to look at them beyond the initial eye contact generated by their arrival. If our frequent eye contact had been creeping her out I didn't want the situation to get worse.
And now I hear the voice of a little boy saying no mommy! I know immediately she is here and up front today. Like the distinctive call of a species of bird, I have learned to identify her son's voice. I have memorized the particular calls of many of the familiars. I don't have to look up to know who has arrived and taken their place, or even who is missing, if for some reason I think of them. I match their sounds to the image I have of them in my mind. How much we remember without realizing we do! How is it possible that we can recall a person's voice and identify them without looking? And when we hear their voice, conjure a vague image of the-thing-itself and feel what they mean to us?
They say hearing is the last sense to die. We whispered into our dogs ears when they passed away. We told them how wonderful and beautiful they were. We told them how much we loved them. I don't know if the words made any difference to them, but the sound of our voices surely did if they heard at all. I am sure they remembered for a moment the body attached to the voice and its importance to them. I whispered when Camille passed away. H whispered when Calvin passed away. I hope they got one last charge of happiness from it. I know it made us feel better.