In the 1950s when my parents lived in Japan, they bought a reel-to-reel tape player and recorded oral letters which they sent to my grandparents in Ohio. There weren’t many that survived as they were erased, recorded over or became so bad no one could understand what was recorded on them. Those that did survive were compiled into CDs by my cousin and sent out to those of us who were there. I really wasn’t there as it was many years before I was born. I’m on one or two tapes that were recorded at my dad’s family reunions.
Yesterday I received these seven CDs in the mail and hurriedly put one in to listen. I had never heard my sister as a young girl or my brother’s voice as a young man. All of them – including my parents – sound so young. Then today I listened to another CD that included the voices of my grandparents.
To say that this is like Christmas for me would be an understatement. I’m hearing people whose voices I haven’t heard in many years. Even though I have dozens of handwritten letters, there is something to be said to actually hear family speak about their day to day activities. I hear the excitement of being in a new country, the sadness of being so far from family, the laughter from being silly, and the fear when my aunt became very sick.
My cousin probably doesn’t really understand just how much these CDs mean to me. It’s a piece of time that will never come again – yet it’s been captured forever in the lilting words of my family.