Voices from the Grave


Today, my husband gave me the rarest of gifts. It’s the sound of my late father’s voice.

My husband had rescued some old tapes that my mother had in her house. As we were clearing up the house in order for her to move into an apartment, he spotted the tapes. Having vague  recollections of making the tapes when I was little,  we kept them. We schlepped (dragged)  them from pillar to post for the last 30 years.  We could never find a machine to play them on -until last week.

My husband asked my collector type neighbor if he knew of a machine that would play old reel-to-reel tapes.  Now, my husband is one of those technical types. He has the magic touch with machinery.   So, he fiddled and fussed. He ran the tapes backwards and forwards. He spliced and diced them together. He did this for me.

“I think I have a tape of your nieces when they were little,” he said.

Knowing that my Dad had brought home the machine from his job as a publicity specialist in the Cleveland Police Department, I knew it was probably my “big sisters” and I. And then I heard him. My dad’s voice. He is telling us how to operate the machine. Then he is interviewing us. He uses his flowery English. I know it’s him. But it doesn’t sound like him. Maybe because he was 43 years old.

“Who is this black-haired beauty?” he says about my oldest sister. “Who is this beautiful blonde?” talking about my other sister. “And here is Barbie.” (Me.) He asks us questions. I sing the “Itsy Bitsy Spider”. I talk about going to Kindergarten. I count to 10, and say my address and phone number. We all sing songs together. I  faintly hear my mother in the background, suggesting things to ask.  Mom was always the director, and Dad liked it that way. I wish she would’ve spoken louder.

On the tape, we  all sound so happy. Our parents had a marriage to be envied. They clearly adored each other. She put on lipstick for him, and he repeatedly brought her flowers and candy. They kissed and hugged each other all the time. They rarely argued.

My father passed away short of his 65th birthday. I’ve outlived him by 2 years. My mother lived until 91, but she was never the same after he died. Such a determined person she went on with her life, but she didn’t smile or laugh nearly as much.

It’d been forty years since I’d heard his voice.

It’s a long time to be without that unconditional love. It’s probably why his voice was unrecognizable at first. Does every girl adore their father; remembering them as them most handsome and perfect Daddy in the world?

There was a little alcove on our first floor, leading into the kitchen. I would always excitedly greet my father with a huge hug when he came home from work. He worked several jobs, but it never felt like it. When he would come home late, he would always come in my room to kiss me goodnight. He would later say, “I came in your  room and you were pounding your ear. ”

So, to hear his voice again and have a recording of it is nothing short of a miracle.

I hope anyone reading this realizes that the sound of your loved one’s voice is really precious. In this world of technology, it’s so easy to do. Don’t forget. You never know where their voices may be silenced.

 

 

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4 thoughts on “Voices from the Grave

  1. This is truly special, Barbara. To have lived with parents that shared so much love with you and your siblings no doubt you cherish. Then, to hear your Dad’s voice again is quite a gift from your husband. I can only imagine how you felt. Thank you for sharing your memories and giving me pause to try to remember my parents and loved ones that have passed and their voices.

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