Hearing Mother's Voice after 31 Years
Sometimes something so wonderful happens you can’t believe it.
My sister recently found some old reel-to-reel recording tapes we had made in 1966, when I was 15. A friend of hers took the large tapes and transferred the contents to a cassette tape.
Featured on the tape are several guitar solos by yours truly -- a person not known then or now -- for her musical ability. Doesn’t matter, because more importantly what is also preserved on the tape is my mother’s voice, talking and singing, which I hadn’t heard in 31 years.
It’s hard to explain what hearing that first sound was like. I was so excited that I had to play it a couple of times just to make sure it was her. Sad to say I had forgotten how she sounded. But then her voice came across again, saying my name, calling my dad “honey,” and virtually running things like she always did so well. Wow.
We listened to the entire tape, hoping for more conversation. But the majority of the recording is of me playing guitar and singing. I was totally into James Bond in those days, so I recorded From Russia with Love and two rousing versions of Goldfinger, one of which leads off the tape.
My mom also takes time to sing Turn Around, the song that can drive an entire church congregation to pull out handkerchiefs at a wedding. Today, with her fifty-something daughter listening, the song is even more poignant. How did I grow so much? How could she be gone that long? Turn around and I am seven years older than she was when she sang that song.
Maybe best of all is a recorded duet of my mom and dad singing More, a Vic Dana song which I don’t think ever made it to classic status. I still remembered the words to the song, probably because I practiced it so much.
On the tape I sing the song and then my parents chime in together. What a lovely thing to hear; the words are so apropos of them:
More than the greatest love the world has known,
This is the love I give to you alone.
More than the simple words I try to say--
I only live to love you more each day.
More than you'll ever know,
My arms long to hold you so,
My life will be in your keeping,
Waking, sleeping, laughing, weeping...
At the end my dad says, “Now, there’s a recording,” and I add, in my own smart-alecky way, “The Beatles have nothing to worry about.” But no Beatles recording was ever this special.
What a treat! It’s a sign of how much life has changed that this was entertainment for us. None of us can actually sing, and I don’t know where the gumption to record our voices came from. But it is all so innocently done, without any conceit. Just sitting around, singing together into a recorder the size of a microwave. Did everyone do this?
I wish there was more. I wish we had sung every night for weeks and recorded all of it. But we didn’t. So I will settle for the few moments I have to relive those days and keep this priceless treasure safe.
Longer than always is a long, long time,
But far beyond forever, you'll be mine.
I know I've never lived before,
And my heart is very sure,
No one else could love you more.
by Teresa K. Flatley