The human voice is the organ of the soul
~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
On my six-hour drive down to visit my daughter and her family, I listened to a wonderful documentary on Minnesota Public Radio: The Vietnam Tapes: Letters from a Willmar Soldier (http://www.mprnews.org/story/2015/04/30/mpr_news_presents).
Dan Kleven and his family from Willmar, Minnesota sent cassette tapes back and forth while he was deployed during the war. He drew vivid word pictures about life in combat and they kept him tuned into daily life on the farm. One of Dan’s best friends also sent him audio letters to stay connected. The documentary was fascinating. Not only did the tapes keep a family sane and connected during wartime, they are also a wonderful legacy for the Kleven family.
Listening to this story got me thinking about how much I wish I had voice recordings of my departed family members. Why hadn’t I taken my digital recorder and asked them about their lives and memories? Why hadn’t I asked what I was like as a child? I would give anything to hear the voices of my parents again. How about my grandparents? Their lives on the North Dakota prairie were remarkable. Why don’t I have recordings of Grandpa Art singing Norwegian songs or Grandma Alvilda sharing precious memories of Mom when she was a little girl? I could just kick myself.
Since they have all passed on, I can’t go back in time and fix this, but it’s not too late for you. Grab a video camera, smart phone, or recorder, sit down around the kitchen table, and start sharing. It needn’t be a Herculean effort, you’re not going for an Oscar after all, so just talk. And while you’re at it, have Mom and Dad share their special talent… everybody has one! If you can, set the recording device in an inconspicuous place so people can be themselves.
You might be young and think you have all the time in the world, but you never know. Besides, you’ll have a lot of laughs in the process. Have fun!
Until next time,
Amy Hammond Hagberg