My earliest recollection was a connection with my mother. Soft, nurturing sounds that calmed and soothed. What did I know from words? There was something there that made me think…I like this sound. Humming. Singing. A language I would come to know as Polish, spoken from my parents to her immigrant father to communicate. No translation came; all the same it seemed strange all those years ago.
The static hum of something… shrill and powerful sounding, surrounding that little room in the basement where Dad carried in wooden boards and removed the most beautiful wooden things. A carpenter by skill, I learned the thrill of his obsession by the sounds his tools emitted. I came equipped with siblings, and they came with secrets whispered and demands shouted. Tearful emissions and admissions of fear and longing, the same as I had!
There were calls of “Hey Walleee!” at the back door of the house. Neighborhood kids spending childhood running wild, every child a brother or sister. As every one was someone’s daughter or son. And every mother was mom! Each connected to the other. A father’s whistle piercing and urgent. We all went running when that alarm went off! Or when the street lamps came on! Met by the sound of an open hand cutting air when we didn’t.
Alcohol laden tirades invaded on payday. A shot –and-a-beer mentality with all the vitality of a rampant bull in the china shop that was my adolescence. We waged battles and rebellions to save my mother’s psyche and my sanity. The vanity of thinking I could save the world. And iron rails, tracks bringing from there and taking from here and clear across the country, encircled my world. The sound of some steam and much diesel was pleasing to my ear. That clackety-clack brings me back every time I hear it. It was clear I had a passion for trains.
We welcomed the clank of pots and pans when my mother began to prepare our evening fare. It was there that the issues of the day played out. We were never without that blessing until that one Christmas Eve when her self-fulfilling prophecy came true. “One of these Christmases I’m going on a long trip and I’m NOT coming back!” The house was much quieter after that.
The neighborhood was as well. I can tell you when we had all grown and gone and Dad was left behind, I find my saddest memory lingers. Swollen fingers and legs and a cancer that begged for finality came at another Christmas time. Dad would soon follow mom and from then on, silence prevailed. The sound of the tumbler the last time the door was locked is my final recollection. Home became just a noisy memory then.
we hear sounds of love
wafting through our hearts and minds,
memories of home.
© Walter J. Wojtanik – 2016
NaPoWriMo 2016 – Day #18: “The Sounds of Home”