Monday, February 10, 2014

A Voice from the Past

People always talk about the associations between smells and memory.  But there are also strong associations between sounds and memory.  Just think about it - do certain songs remind you of a moment in your past?

Once in a while I go to this McDonalds to work online while the twins are in preschool.  They have really fast wifi.  Plus, I confess I like their French fries.  There is always an older man there.  Tall and slender, with a poof of billowy white hair.  He wears checkered shirts and pressed slacks, and he drinks the senior discount coffee while chatting with his friends.  The friends vary.  But he never does.

As I sit there and blog, his voice never fails to send me traveling to the past.  He sounds exactly like my grandfather.  While there is no resemblance in appearance, his voice has the same nuances, the same accent, the same tone as my mom's father.  I can't sit there listening without remembering cousins and pugs and fossil-hunting walks through the fields.  Cans full of magic markers for drawing, Gumby on the ceiling fan, chewing tobacco, soft rabbits in cages, and faded plastic cups of iced tea. 

Me, age 2
 
Sometimes, I forget that he's there, and then his voice is a shock to me, the way it grabs at me and yanks me into the past.  It saddens me, but it brings me comfort too.

Readers, do you ever hear voices from the past?

38 comments:

cobie en bas van Es said...

niet veel maar het gebeurd wel eens.

Cyndy @ Back in the Bush said...

I love this post!
My grandfather and his brother sounded exactly alike. My grandfather and I were not close but I LOVED his brother. I remember once hearing that voice and running out, only to find my grandfather and being disappointed.
Side note: a family friend has a young daughter and they live in Georgia. I saw them this weekend and I kept thinking that the little girl's voice sounded SO familiar. I finally recognized it: she sounded exactly like the young Jenny from Forrest Gump! I could just hear her saying "Run, Forrest, Run!" LOL It was so funny. So, yeah, I get that voice connection too!

Sunnybrook Farm said...

I can't remember a voice doing that as they are so distinct but I still have my grandfather's steel wheeled wheelbarrow and when I go down the road with it, the sound is exactly like when he used it 50 years ago. Smell usually triggers memories with me most of the time.

Terri @ Backward B Ranch said...

Isn't it great how our minds work!! the tiniest thing can bring back memories of my brother- he has been gone now over 40 years..but I can hear or see something that reminds me of him and I am instantly transported back in time..same for my grandparents only those memories or more likely as not to be triggered by smells.

Karen said...


Not exactly the same... but my Grandmother Elsie had a very distinct look and smiling eyes. Her sister, still with us and 15 years her sisters junior, has the same smiling eyes...and now and then when I look into them as we have a conversation, I see my grandmother again and it brings comfort.

Melanie said...

Yes, sounds bring back memories too. whenever I hear a certain song by the group Cheap Trick (dating myself here) I am 16 years old, with my friends and we are at a local swimhole on the beach side. There is laughter, we are having fun and the radio is playing in the background. If I close my eyes, I can smell the tanning lotion and feel the warm sunshine on my skin. Happy memories!!!

Tanya Breese said...

oh lisa, what a beautiful post...hugs..

Jacquelineand.... said...

My nephew sounds exactly like my father (his grandfather) did. When he calls it always gives me a little shock to hear his voice.

Buttons said...

Oh Lisa I love that a voice could do that for you I can imagine that it felt like a big hug from the past, I envy that. My memories are triggered by smells mostly. Ivory soap reminds me of both my Grandmas and Old Spice after shave reminds me of my Grandpa and Dad. I can feel the hugs when I smell those scents. I love that. Hug B

Beth @ E. Lizard Breath Speaks said...

i can recall conversations that my Grandma Mary & Ruby had with me ... i lost Mary back in '99 ... so i feel i have lost more of her voice than Ruby. she has been gone last that Mary. i wish that we would have had video of them both. i think that is why this day & age is so much easier ... kids can keep the memories alive for years. i have pictures but wish i had video. i have my wedding video but not voice there.

i love the shot of you ... cute dress. ( :

LONDONLULU said...

How wonderful and sad at the same time (well, sad things can also be wonderful) - I haven't had this happen to me with a person's voice, but I know what you mean with songs evoking old memories...

JDaniel4's Mom said...

I see people that I think that look like other people sometimes. How cool to hear someone that sounds like someone special.

Jeanne said...

Interesting post! and hope that you have told this gentleman this story... bet he would enjoy this. Also, the other day, I was passing through my living room and "smelled my mother' very strongly.... as it turns out, I had used a new laundry detergent and had washed a quilt that was hanging on a chair. It smelled just like my mom, and brought back some great memories!

Sally said...

I love that photo of you, Lisa. That, in itself, brings back memories of times gone by; children outside playing, having fun.

xoxo

TexWisGirl said...

just lovely remembrance.

being in texas, i don't get to hear many wisconsinite tones. :)

Sharon Wagner said...

Oh yes. I know that feeling. Usually it is more visual for me.

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

You brought me there.
Smells do it for me more than sounds. Lilacs, cigars, bourbon, dead fish.

Monkeywrangler said...

Wonderful remembrances, Lisa. Some day you should go over by the older man and strike up a conversation with him...see if he is from the area near where your Grandfather grew up or later lived.

Tina Fariss Barbour said...

Loved this, Lisa.

My father had a southern accent that sounded like all the corners of the words were softened. His brother's voice or some of my cousins sound like him, and it brings back memories instantly. I don't hear that accent in the part of Campbell County I live in now. Sounds strange, but just 20 miles can make a difference.

Out on the prairie said...

I went to a reunion after my dad passed and watched a guy who looked similar. I finally went up to talk with him and found out he had only married into the family.

Mila said...

Yepp, happens to me sometimes, I guess to everybody.. a smell, a taste, a sound and you're back in time. Annoying sometimes though, when you can't put your finger on the specific memory. I have a lipstick that smells like something I had in childhood, but it's been weeks and I can't figure out where or what it was.

Laura Lee said...

Just love that picture, what a cute hat and a PINWHEEL! omg, my mom used get those for me sometimes at the check out Brennemans--a little variety store in town where I grew up. Haven't seen one in forever.

Our Neck of the Woods said...

That would be pretty shocking to hear! It's true that sounds really can bring back memories.

Kim @ Stuff could... said...

So sad as it is a comfort also. I love to hear those resemblances. You were cute at 2

Barbara said...

I find comfort in moments like that.

Cat said...

This happens to me all the time. Everybody loved Daddy and we all miss him so much.
I loved that little dress you wore in the picture. It was a hand-me-down from Cousin Kristin. I believe either Carolyn or Granny Besse made it.

Marissa Napier said...

I love this post, it's a lovely remembrance.

Michelle said...

I usually see people who remind me of others.

Gail Dixon said...

I've never had that experience, but certain songs can bring me instantly back to a past memory.

Grandma Bonnie said...

I love your photo. I can understand being transported in the past from a persons voice or even that special song. I am glad that it is a comfort to hear his voice and also feel the sadness that it brings on from such fond memories.

Tweedles -- that's me said...

What a cool cool story you just shared with us,,,, and at Mc Donalds!
love
tweedles

Angela said...

I have seen people who remind me of love ones passed, but I don't think I've ever heard anyone who sounded like them. I will have to say you are brave for going into a McDonalds because I can't stand the grease smell you get from going in there! lol I have a big thing about smells.

Harry Flashman said...

I don't hear voices from the past, but certain sounds get my attention. Loud bangs are one of them. I never go to fireworks displays.

Blackberry Lane said...

A very sweet post today. I often see elderly gentlemen who remind me of my dad at restaurants/fast food. He always wore "Sunday" clothes, loved to visit with his friends, and wore a hat. I often get teary eyed when I see someone similar.

totschooltotallyawesome said...

Oh yes I do believe you are right. Love this post and love that picture too :)

Michaele said...

Anyone speaking with a German accent takes me back. Even just the North Dakotan accent will throw me. Can't say I have had it happen in McDonalds though.

mail4rosey said...

There's a group of men at the Subway by my son's school who always seem to be there after school (it's shared w/a gas station and we sometimes stop to get gas).

I like seeing them there laughing. I think it's neat. :)

As for your question, some sounds do take you back to that past, I agree.

Linda said...

He may be a distant cousin. Love the picture.