Innocence lost

I pushed the wrong button and it was gone forever.

A couple of years ago, our son recorded the message on our answering machine. It started fairly routinely: “Hi, you’ve reached the Ash-Roberts household. We can’t take your call right now, but if you leave your name and number, we’ll get back to you.”

It ended this way, with a bit more urgency and all the authority an 11-year-old’s sing-song voice could muster: “If you’re calling for Evan, please leave a message.”

Evan is 13 now. His voice changed over the summer, dropping to the hard, flat sound typical of a teenager from the upper Midwest. The voice on the answering machine was our only audible link to the way he used to sound.

I wanted to record the recording, to preserve that memory. But I pushed the wrong button, or perhaps the right button at the wrong time. The answering machine erased Evan’s message rather than playing it.

I am as bummed about screwing that up as anything I’ve been bummed about in a long, long time. Of course, I still can hear Evan’s sing-song voice in my head. My only hope is that the memory lingers.

“Always Something There To Remind Me,” R.B. Greaves, from “R.B. Greaves,” 1969.

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Filed under October 2008, Sounds

4 responses to “Innocence lost

  1. jb

    We tend to underestimate the importance of voices in our memories, I think. When my grandmother died a few years ago, one of my grandfather’s brothers came to the visitation. I could have talked to that man for hours, because he sounded *exactly* like my grandfather, who had been gone for 11 years at that point. I didn’t realize how much I missed hearing that voice. Similarly, I’m finding that as my mother gets older, she sounds more like her mother, who’s been gone for many years.

    Fabulous post. Thanks a lot.

  2. stu

    Arg. I’ve done that with messages from my niece and nephew, too.

  3. AMD

    Oh man, I nearly got a lump in my throat, identifying with the notion of the grievous loss of a such a record. My son is turning 14 next month, and while I have loads of video material from when he was four and five, I have nothing beyond that except photos and memories. I miss his previous “incarnations”, though not so much as I enjoy his presence right now.

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