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Jan 8, 2018

My mother's voice

I saw Mama in December, just four weeks before she died. She could not remember me, but kept saying that I look very familiar. Just in case, she decided to treat everyone she met as a potential family member. Perhaps this is how we all should try to live? She would ask everyone how they were doing, how are children, and offering tea. She told storied from her childhood, could name the village, the street where she grew up, names of her parents. She actually looked happy. When she spoke, the timbre of her voice woke up a small part of my brain. Something within me started to vibrate in unison with her voice. It always happens when I do not see her for a long time, and it always surprises me. Here I am, way over fifty, and I get the profound sense of bliss just from hearing my mother’s voice. Aren’t we supposed to grow out of it?

One of my memories is when I was about 5 or 6. My brother and I are at home, it is dusky and chilly. And then Mom walks into the door, we hear her voice. As we run to greet her, the apartment suddenly feels warm and light. I even remember wondering about this physical sensation at the time, “but it did not actually get lighter and warmer, did it?”

Bowlby, Harlow, and Ainsworth have created the theory of infant attachment. It is perhaps one of the most important patterns of all human sociability. Eli Sagan, unlike Freud, thought that mothers, not fathers, are responsible for the birth of morality. Morality is universal, because it draws on the same experience of being nurtured by a mother. Our mothers or their substitutes literally make humans out of us in the first few months of our lives. What happens to the attachment when we grow up, move away? I’d say, it is still there, somewhat hidden, buried under all the layers of adult lives. Her voice could bring it back, and that is what I am going to miss. 


  1. Love this post, Dr. Sidorkin! I'm really sorry about your mother, but am glad I got to hear about her through your words.

  2. Alex, I am sorry for the loss of your Mom. I find the loss of opportunity to hear our loved one's voice one of the most difficult pains to bear. You are in my thoughts. Thank you for sharing.

  3. Sasha, this is a beautiful post. I am so sorry for your loss, but I do indeed think that the essence of our childhood experiences and our parents’ voices and messages live on in us. My mother passed away over 12 years ago, and yet, I can often still hear her. Sometimes, I feel as if she is sitting lightly on my shoulder, or taps me, and then whispers in my ear. Mostly they are those messages that make me feel grounded and peaceful, and sometimes they are important reminders that I need to hear. Always, I am happy that she remains an important part of me. I am so happy that you were able to hear her voice, and I send you thanks for sharing her with us.