Hey, What’s that Sound?

Mary Welch Steinhoff w Ken Steinhoff 1949
Mary Welch Steinhoff w Ken Steinhoff 1949

Missouri is thinking about becoming winter. Every day when I look out the kitchen window, a few more maple leaves are turning yellow. I had to take a rake to the driveway a couple afternoons ago. I’m a rake kind of guy. I never liked the noise and hubbub of power leaf blowers.

Maybe it’s because I never got good at using one. Mother, on the other hand, could keep a wave of leaves rolling down the hill like she just dared them to slow down.

Furnace one day; AC the next

Mary Steinhoff and LV Steinhoff w Roy E Welch in background - Rolla MO 1942
Mary Steinhoff and LV Steinhoff w Roy E Welch in background – Rolla MO 1942

It got down into the 50s the other night. Cool enough that the hall thermostat read 61 degrees. I threw three rice bags that Wife Lila had made for me into the microwave, then put one at my feet, one at my knees and one at my chest to make the bed toasty. The next morning, though, I gave in and set the furnace at 66 to take the chill out of the air.

Being Missouri, though, the temperature cracked 80 two days later, and I had to switch from furnace to AC to keep the house below 77 degrees.

I had gotten used to the silence

Mary Welch Steinhoff
Mary Welch Steinhoff around age 3

All of these seasonal changes mean it is what used to be Mother’s Birthday season. This is the second one without her. I had just gotten used to the silent house.

Mostly silent


There are some odd creaks and groans: some of it comes from me when I crawl out of bed in the morning. Some of are familiar sounds like the board in the hallway floor I used to try to step around when I was sneaking in late. It still squeals on me, even though it’s been years since I had a curfew, and there’s nobody around to scold me.

Who is in the house?

p22c-mary-lee-welch-steinhoff-kenneth-lee-steinhoffI was in the basement the other night, though, when I heard what sounded like the scraping sound the kitchen chair would make when Mother would push it back. That was followed by a couple of sharp raps like the door opening, and footsteps on the stairs.

Mother? I thought?

Wife Lila? One is 1,100 miles away, and the other is much further away than that.

Then it dawned on me

mary-welch-steinhoff-scrapbook0004Walnuts. The wind was throwing walnuts against the roof like they were golf balls.

That, or Mother wasn’t happy that I hadn’t mowed the lawn recently or chased the leaves down the hill.

What do the pictures have to do with this?

mary-welch-steinhoff-cape-rock-c-1941Absolutely nothing. I just like them.

Here are some stories about Mother.

14 Replies to “Hey, What’s that Sound?”

  1. MY OLD ROOMMATE FROM BERKELEY (after looking 40 years)
    LIVING THE 70’s.

  2. Ken, Thank you for sharing. She will always be with you, and thanks to your generous sharing spirit with all of us.

  3. It is funny how the mind works, a little wind on the roof and falling walnuts bring a memory. Your mom was a special person to a lot of people and was famous over the whole world because you shared her with us. Thanks for sharing your mom with all of us. I will happy drink in her honor on the deck today to start the birthday season.

  4. it’s our second season without our mom, too -she would have been 107 this October – and certainly wouldn’t have cared to be with us to celebrate. Like your mom, she was a character whose ways and sayings with be with us always.
    so enjoyed the thoughts and memories you’ve expressed here. thanks!

  5. These are so compelling. The photo on the beach is priceless. I am putting together a memory book for children and grandchildren. Many a tear as I go back through the years. Even though I do not know the people in these photographs, there is a joy that elicits similar emotions.

  6. I hear those walnuts hitting the roof of hubby’s little metal building not far from your kitchen window. Can sound a little eerie in the middle of the night. Or maybe I just hear Halloween approaching!

  7. Your mom had a smile or grin in all of those pictures and you can just see the energy around her like a halo. That’s how I remember her….

  8. Hi my name is Kenny Kimbel the two girls in the picture at cape rock remindes me all the times I spent there parked with my girlfriend injoying the late nights were grate had lots fun thare

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