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Silence for an Answer
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On Sunday morning at 8:00 am, my cell phone rang waking me up out of a sound sleep. I groped for the phone and though I can barely see without my glasses, I could my son Jeremy’s name in huge letters. When I answered, a picture popped up via FaceTime of Jeremy and all three of my grandkids with kazoos which I sent to them. Little Scrunch (aka Isaak) had three kazoos in his mouth as they all blew into them creating a loud monotonous yet melodic noise. All you have to do is blow into the kazoo while you’re humming a tune, and that’s about it. They all seemed to play their own little tune. Then they yelled, “Hi Grandma Mary!”

I was delighted though I know I looked like crap as I grabbed my glasses and attempted to settle my more than wild morning hair. I remembered it was also Jeremy’s 37th birthday, so I wished him happy birthday.

Little Scrunch, who is not quite three years old yelled, “I want birthday, I wnt birthday!”

Charlotte ran around playing her kazoo and Jeremiah who is almost 10 now, waved hello and showed me that the black t-shirt with the salmon on the front fit him perfectly, one of the t-shirts I sent. It’s hard to find clothing in his size.

Soon I was awake and caught up in all of the excitement, talking and laughing as loud as the rest of them, over the constant sounds of kazoos. I moved into the living room, opened the back door to the yard and let the cool morning air blow in.

Then, a text popped up on my screen from my boyfriend in the other room. “Can you please keep it down? So loud.”

I sighed. My boyfriend thought I was loud all the time. Others have accused me of being loud. I try to explain that we’re a loud family, and when we all get together, insanity ensues, like it’s always a party. This was the case even before the grandkids came along and after Jeremiah was born. Now, with three grandkids to add to the din, the insanity has become much louder.

I remembered falling asleep to the constant sounds of my then teenage son Jeremy playing his bongos while someone else incessantly played the bass. No problem at all for me. Falling asleep to music and family noises has always seemed so natural, so it’s sometimes difficult for me to understand that some people cannot handle it, like when my sister visited my family the Christmas before last when we celebrated in California with all the grandkids. She only lasted about 30 minutes. Christmas Day and kids is especially insane and delightful. I love every minute of the chaos, the kazoo playing, the music, the mini kids’ drum set and kid piano, and the voices of my kids talking above the sounds.

This past year, I’ve missed those sounds. I only get to experience them through FaceTime these days, but soon I’ll visit and it’ll be total insanity once again.

When I saunter into the woods, I’m greeted with singing birds and the soft sounds of swaying trees. When I ask myself a question, I’m greeted by silence. But it’s okay then. It’s okay when I’m alone in the woods communing with nature in all of its glory. I relish in the silence, knowing that I can return to loud chaos at some other time, though when I hang out here with my boyfriend unless we’re playing music together, it isn’t that loud. When I write, I hear voices in my head, and it’s quiet — but the voices in my head from the characters and stories are also loud. At times.

Even when it’s quiet, there are noises which are soft like the branches of a small tree in the backyard blowing in the afternoon breeze. You just have to listen. We do play music in the front yard underneath the sweet gum tree, and I live for those moments.

I hope to return to California to visit my grandkids and my wonderful family at the end of May. I will love every moment of the chaos and will add to it by playing my ukulele and singing and Jeremy will get his guitar out and play along and sing, or his bongos. and the kids will squeal with delight and blow into kazoos.

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