At naptime Anna listens to recordings of novels recorded by Jeff’s grandmother. It is the main way she will know Winnie, as it is the main way I have ever known Winnie. Some of the recordings are missing parts, and Suzie often fills in the first few sentences, her cadence echoing the distinctive pattern of her mother’s reading. That voice is familiar to me from life and not only from recordings, and my heart has stopped clenching when I hear it. Jeff, the third generation, has uploaded the stories for easier listening by the fourth generation.
At Christmas Lily wanted me to read The Wizard of Oz to her, and I recorded each chapter as we went. I’ll leave for a trip on Monday and I’m finally stringing the files together now so Anna will have a new recording to listen to while I’m gone. I hesitate over whether to remove Lily’s interjections (“What would happen if you didn’t have a heart?”) and my speculations on how a Tin Woodman could or couldn’t function.
I leave our entwined digressions on the recording, hoping my grandchildren learn the sound of my voice in vivo, making some small insurance against the chance that they won’t.
Moving and thought-provoking as always. It made me wonder whether I feel I am missing something for never having heard, seen or met any of my great-grandparents. If I were to come across a recording of any of their (great-grand) voices, would the sound of their voices be meaningful to me? Probably not — they were just names in a family tree to me, just as I am destined to be to my great-grands.