How Dad Lost His Voice — And Finally Learned to Listen
We never realized how much dad’s booming bravado controlled our family dynamic, until it was gone.
Illustrations by Tsjisse Talsma
I handed Dad his mug of tea, and settled into a chair across the kitchen table from him. “How are you feeling?”
“Not bad,” he rasped, with a shrug. The hood of his ratty gray sweatshirt shifted and settled, revealing the very tip of a zipper-line of stitches running up the left side of his neck. I looked away and hung my head over the mouth of my mug, letting the lemon-ginger steam waft up my nose.
We chatted in small bursts. My work, his recovery, the weather, the house. I could feel myself bubbling, waiting for the tap to turn on our usual flow of conversation. But he held himself back, since every word strained his aching throat.
I drained my mug of tea. “How about lunch?”
“Great idea!” He grinned. “Let’s ask your mom if she wants to join us.” He lifted his chin and croaked, “Bar-baraaaa?”
This was a familiar ritual, a groove gently worn from daily use throughout their thirty-year marriage. On any ordinary day, my father’s bellow would set the walls and wi…