My mother and I never had a traditional greeting when we called each other. Instead of the banal “Hi Mom”, I could not help but deviate to the voice and the very unusual way Steve Martin used the word in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. If you’ve seen the movie, you’ll know what I mean. For those of you who have not had the pleasure of viewing this 1980’s masterpiece, allow me to introduce you.
When she was still with us, I would dial my mom’s number and when I heard her voice say hello, the first words out of my mouth were “Muther, muther”, doing my best to imitate Steve Martin as the classic character of Ruprecht. She would always respond with an elongated “yeeeessss”. It was our thing. It was something only the two of us shared and it made me want to call her all the time just to hear that extended response because it made my heart smile every time I heard it.
It’s been just over a year and a half since she left and I still find myself nonsensically picking up the phone to call her. There are still things in my life that I only want to share with her and, although I know she has all of the details of my life, I just want to hear her voice one more time.
I think back to all of the voice mails she left for me and I berate myself for not saving any of them. Even if it was the most trivial narration of what had happened in the dining hall, that simple communication contained the timber and gentleness of the voice I have known for longer than I have physically been on this Earth.
Sometimes I think I have been able to pull that sound from the vault of my memory but it will always be missing that special element. It will always be missing her, just as much as I am.