Echoes of Life

Today's thought

It is funny how much we tend to over-look so many things in life – things that are so matter-of-fact which exist in our daily lives yet we may take no notice of their significance until something happens to remind us of their existence.

I am referring to the topic of telephone answering machines. We simply take it for granted that the person leaving an outgoing message when they aren’t home, a simple gesture, can live on much longer than the actual person who’s voice has left that message.

My husband came home from work the other day and instead of being in his usual jovial mood when he returns from work, he appeared to be flustered and distracted. When I asked him what the matter was he responded by telling me that he had tried to get in touch with his grandson that day but he wasn’t home and when the answering machine picked up, he was greeted by a message left from his daughter Sue who had recently passed away. He hadn’t anticipated hearing the sound of his daughter’s voice again and the incident had temporarily froze him in time. He sat silently then for a few moments after hearing her voice in short reminisce of his lost daughter and shed some tears. The voice from the past had certainly taken him by surprise.

After he shared the incident with me he questioned whether or not the message was a good thing to keep on the machine or if he should speak to his grandsons about changing it. As I had never been faced with this type of dilemma, I told him that his grandsons may either not be aware of it or perhaps they may be and choose to leave it on until they are ready to change it;  a delicate subject at this time to bring up.

I found the whole incident haunting yet touching and I can’t even pretend to imagine what went through my husband’s mind when he was caught off guard at that moment. The incident did however bring to mind a beautiful article I had read a few months previous, written by my writer friend Elaine Mansfield who writes beautiful articles on the subject of grief and bereavement. Elaine wrote an article on a related topic when she was deciding what to do with her husband’s cellphone after her beloved husband had passed away http://bit.ly/1n4Tx41

I don’t believe there is a right or wrong way to answer this question. Perhaps for some of us, the sound of a lost loved one’s voice is a comfort or for others it may just reinforce or reignite the grief process.

DGKaye©2014

25 thoughts on “Echoes of Life

  1. What an interesting photo of the telephone pole. After 4 years, my sister’s name still appears on the phone number she had with her husband. I just can’t change it. Sometimes, when I get a call from her husband and see her name on the phone I jolt…really…and for a nano second wonder if she’s calling me. I wish!

    Like

    1. I am sure many people who have loved and lost have been faced at some point with a voice of the past. That is why I felt compelled to write about it. Sometimes I think we may also will it to be a message our loved ones are leaving to say hello. 🙂

      Like

  2. You’re right. There is no right or wrong answer to this. My aunt who died two years ago has a Facebook account, and it still is being updated by my mom (I don’t know why…). It still freaks me out every time “my aunt likes my posts” on Facebook.

    Like

    1. Wow, that could be eerie I suppose but like I said, people have their own way of accepting loss and I think we have to respect what each individual needs to get through or stay in a comfort zone. It is really difficult to judge Mock. Once upon a time these technical lingerings wouldn’t have been a thought but it’s a different era now and I am sure there are plenty who have loved and lost that hang on to whatever thread they have left.

      Like

  3. Oooh Deb,
    What a subject! One that has touched all of us who have lost loved ones! What an eloquent job you did here and I agree with Carol, the picture is haunting and sooo appropriate! I have always found pairing photos with my posts as therapeutic.
    You are so right. I had a million things that I wanted to say but you tied it up so perfectly in your last thoughts. There is no right answer and your conversation with your husband was so sweet and I agree it is a very delicate subject. She was your husband’s daughter first and then she was his grandson’s mom after…. so it is hard not to take ownership of our own parental feelings. But you were right. Maybe they can’t let go yet. The act of erasing or just changing a message is a message in it’s self.
    I have an older friend who died but as long as no one has removed her facebook, She is still my friend on it. I can’t imagine losing a child, whatever age, you feel you should go first. My daughter and I have talked about death lately. She just lost a good friend who was only in his mid twenties of a heart attack. I still miss my dad who died the same way. Death is just a hard fact. But all the ones left to tie up the loose ends like message machines just seems unfair.
    I am looking forward to seeing Heaven IS For Real.
    Are you guys going to see it? It might be a comfort for your hubby.
    Sending prayers your way. I know it can’t be easy for you right now.
    xoxo
    di
    signed on under keri
    I need to get back to me and reply to you!
    😉

    Like

    1. Hi Di (Keri),lol. Thanks for your warm comments. Yes, it is interesting the picture I chose here of the broken telephone pole. When I saw it, I honestly got goosebumps and read so much into its meaning as you and others have well-noted. I felt like writing about the incident because it is simply a topic that we don’t really think about until we have lost someone dear and are left with tiny remnants of life. It does make the ones left behind stop and take a pause when surprised by a voice from the beyond. Everyone has to search within themselves to find what is most comfortable with the situation. Some cling to what is left and others may find it too painful. Regardless, it is unfair to judge how people choose to deal with their grief.
      And oh, I can’t wait to see Heaven IS. Unfortunately I will probably wait for the DVD. I enjoy movies better at home. Let me know what you think!:) xo

      Like

    1. You are so cute! I have the same problem of getting ahead of myself and hitting reply without sometimes rereading. The world of hurry, lol. Thank goodness for editors! xo

      Like

  4. Oh boy. This is a hard one, Deb. My friend had her own voice saying “this is R and B’s phone, please leave a message” for the longest time. I wanted her to change it, but didn’t say anything. In about 6 months she did–probably prompted by one of her kids. That’s what happened to me. My son said I needed to take Vic’s message off the answering machine. I did that within a few days of his death. Then a few months later, my other son said, “Mom, you have to redo your answering machine message. You sound like you’re crying. It’s too sad.” So I put on a cheery voice and made a second message that stays there still. Thanks for citing my post. It’s been one of my most read and shared posts. These telephone (and FB page and website) issues arrive when someone dies.

    Your poor sad husband. Some people cherish these voice messages from someone who is gone and copy them to another device. Others can’t wait to get rid of them. I erased my husband’s message. Sometimes I’m sorry about that, but I have his voice on a few CDs and my favorite is a StoryCorp interview about 5 months before his death with my interviewing him. I should write about that! Best to you and your husband and forgive my lengthy response.

    Like

    1. Thank you so much Elaine. You know I just love hearing your words of wisdom. It was strange when my husband had told me about the startling moment, I immediately thought of that post you wrote on Vic and the phone. Yes, this world of technology now leaves behind traces of those we have loved and lost and I am sure many people are faced with this same dilemma and so I wanted to share it.
      I do look forward to your post of your interview with Vic. You know how inspiring I think you are! xo

      Like

  5. I also thought of Elaine’s post. My heart goes out to your husband! I am guilty of causing that feeling in others by leaving my late husband, Paul’s, message on for over a year. It jolted quite a few of them. I would still have it on, but #1 the machine ate it before I could figure out how to record it and #2 I no longer have that home or a land line answering machine. I miss his voice so much.
    My sister’s Facebook is still up after 2 years, People still leave her messages on special days. We had been estranged for eight years, but had finally made up eight months before her sudden death. She didn’t have internet for months before she died, so my unanswered friend request still haunts me. I do check it every once in awhile…why not, stranger things have happened?!
    Love this post and photo, Debby!
    xo
    P

    Like

    1. Thanks Patti! It is so interesting to hear people’s experiences they have shared with me since this post. I just had to write about it because it really touched me and made me think how significant the things are which get left behind which are so matter of fact while a lost loved one was alive. I know many have experiences with these circumstances with all the technology there is today and I am elated with the warm feedback this post has received and the openness of people like you sharing your own stories!. xo

      Like

      1. In my opinion, that’s what it’s all about! I love it when I hit on something dear to me and you all give such great feedback about it. I also love seeing it and joining in on other blogs, like yours, Debby.
        xo
        P

        Like

  6. Easter is a promise of joy and renewal
    May this one before us
    Marks a new beginning
    Of happiness, love and prosperity.
    Wishing you a Happy Easter!
    With love maxima

    Like

    1. Thanks so much for your lovely words Stefan. It is so nice to hear from you. I wish you and yours a very happy holiday! 🙂 xo

      Like

  7. Don’t copy over the tape. Keep it ! In the future you both may remember this day and want to listen to her voice again.

    Happy Easter my friend ❤

    Like

  8. I agree with Ralph but each person must do what works for them. Maybe time will have an answer. I do agree this must have been an eerie experience.
    I remember the day of my father’s funeral, a nursing home called to say they had a vacancy and that was a jarring moment.

    Like

    1. That is eerie. I know many are faced with the lingering of unclosed accounts and such that seem to haunt after a loved one has passed. That’s why I wanted to share. Thanks for reading Tess. 🙂

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s